I wrote what follows a while ago, so many thoughts of what to say and never the right time to post it. I want to have this for myself to remember how I was feeling. But. There is both reluctance and hope that others might know my feelings.
My mind knows the reality, but my heart copes better with fantasy.
The day John left us, the earth shuddered. I shook myself, in shock. I looked around. What? What? There must have been a universe quake, a rift in time and space so enormous that it put us in an alternate universe with no way back. A universe where John does not exist. There are relics. But no John. John always listened carefully in circle and felt the quality of all the persons in the filk room, at that time and in that place. Present. Then he would know what song would make a follower, at that time and in that room. Not necessarily that his was the unique follower that must be sung. Often he was delighted with alternatives that presented themselves. Now, here, am I. In this alternate universe where John does not exist. What follower can there possibly be?
I was recently asked why it was so important for me to attend John’s memorial service when I had not seen him in many years and had communicated only through e-mails in recent years. The answer is that much of the woman that I have become is directly attributable to John.
Our friendship, courtship, marriage, loss of our child, divorce and subsequent reconciliations lasted from 1980 to 1991, a period of more than eleven years. Sadly, it could have lasted longer than that if I had been brave enough to try yet again with him in 1991.
During our extended relationship, I had my first poem accepted by a publisher, won my first literary competition, did my first public reading in an open mike forum, went on my first protest march, signed my first petition, went to my first political rally, lived in my first housing co-operative, and did my first advocacy for others, all with his support and encouragement. John taught me about social justice and that it was sexy to be an intelligent woman. It is thanks to John’s tenacity in gaining his own degree and his black belts, that I was able to emulate him and devote ten years to the gaining of my own two degrees while raising four children.
John described himself as a secular humanist but he taught me that it is possible to be spiritual without being religious. In my estimation, John’s musical gifts, his respect for nature and his care for those in need was nothing less than Divine.
John helped me to heal from sexual trauma by using great patience and respectful sensuality. He taught me that a man can be gentle without being weak, and strong without being aggressive, angry, or controlling. I loved John passionately, carried him in my heart always, and he was, and will remain, the measuring stick for any man in my life.
I was John’s first lover and he repaid me by teaching me how to live, with integrity and with courage. I am thankful for the privilege of being his wife. I want to share with you that I believe we can best celebrate his life by living our own, each day, to the fullest of our abilities, with creativity, with love,with honour, and with dignity as John did. And we had better laugh loudly and dance our asses off every chance we get!
My brother – companion, confidante and counselor; protector, sounding board and shoulder to cry on; partner in adventures and misadventures; slayer of childhood monsters under the bed and later, small rodents in the kitchen (equally scary). John was always ready to debate a point, discuss an idea, offer an opinion. He would gleefully share a new discovery, a good book or a bad pun and I could always count on him to hold up the mirror when I was having trouble seeing my way clearly. John was my compass for navigating life.
As we travel the grief road, there are stages. His body has been consumed in flame, and that is as it should be.
John, it’s becoming harder and harder to visualize you just away for the weekend on a “road trip”. Darn but we loved those roadtrips.
I’ve run out of shortbread cookies… Vincent is missing his stropping post. The litterbox has never been so clean. All is forgiven, come home now!
The stereo is never played too loud, guitars are getting out of tune and we miss you more each day.
Hey, John I just found a picture of the back of your head — you always thought it was one of your best features — we disagreed!
…as everyone’s death diminishes me; John Caspell more than most because he was part of my extended family. When my daughter and John’s brother Paul joined, I acquired Paul’s whole family to include in mine, and that made John my kin too. I see now from reading the condolences from his friends in music that I knew him hardly at all.
Learning of his accident from my daughter I went to see him on Monday. We talked – about the accident, yes, but also about science fiction. He was running out of reading material and bordeom threatened. My collection is thin when it comes to contemporary science fiction but we settled on Philip K Dick and on Tuesday I took him most of my Dick shelf; he chose to keep about half, all re-reads, but favourites.
I heard John sing only rarely; my family gatherings are given more to talk than music. My loss. And now, OUR loss. Our GREAT loss. The world is now a less interesting place.
I first met John in London, Ontario, shortly after my sister started dating John’s brother Paul. He seemed kind of scary, but once he started talking and our shared interest in science fiction became apparent I warmed to him. I remember being amazed at how John’s stammer would completely disappear when he sang. In those days he always had an enormous appetite as well; I remember that when he was visiting at my parents’ place I always made sure to load up my plate, because with John around, there would be no second helpings. I’ve since learned that he was working in a lumberyard at the time. Once when I lived in Toronto I had to move my stuff a few houses down the block; with almost no notice, John happily (and effortlessly) helped me schlep it all. I will always remember John as bright, cheerful, confident, intellectually stimulating, challenging and larger-than-life (both literally and figuratively). I will miss him.
Allegra has posted a link to Brooke’s photos of John in the Links section.
(Richard) John Caspell, aka Dr. Filk, was Brooke Lunderville’s musical other half, my brother-in-common-law, my housemate for 10 years, my musical collaborator for many raucous and joyous evenings, a wonderful uncle to my kids and his other nieces and nephews, a filker, a motorcyclist, and … in short … a man of parts.
This site exists for his friends, family and admirers to share pictures, music, stories and condolences.