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Wayson’s memorial

Drained tonight. Today was Wayson’s memorial event at Harbourfront. There was a lot of laughter, of course, and many tears. I still find it hard to believe he’s not here; that he doesn’t want to hear how my classes are going and give me advice, that he won’t be here for Sunday dinner tomorrow, with lots of meat. The Fleck Theatre was full of his friends and admirers. I was there with friend Anna who drove in from Stratford; she’d once optioned All That Matters as a film but was ahead of her time, the world was ready only a few years ago for an all-Asian film, but not then.

My heart ached with missing him, but it was wonderful how many of us there were, aching. So many thought of him as family. How did he manage to make so many people love him so very much? And not just adults but children. He was a child himself, in a way, with his joyful enthusiasms and the toys he loved to buy and distribute. The stuff – I’m sure everyone there, those who knew him, have Wayson memorabilia in their homes. Eli now has a heavy dragon paperweight Wayson gave me. Eli loved him too.

He would of course have adored every minute of this event, would have made self-deprecating jokes about people being forced to be there and pretending to love him. But he knew how much we really did. How could we not?

I took a few notes for those of you who could not be there.

People remarked on
his: beautiful calligraphic handwriting; love for dim sum; envy of Francoise Sagan’s youthful fame and her red Ferrari; belief in ghosts, symbols, and omens; origami
butterflies; countless collections – hundreds of rubber stamps, pens, books, watches. Vanity. Spirituality. Many families. 
His sayings: Onward.
You matter. Family is who loves you. Bravo! The heart knows no rules. You’re
lucky to be queer; there is beauty in being different and in choosing your
family. Be guided by love. Too many rhinestones. Hot bits.

His editor said he started to write about his first serious health crisis, when a combined heart and asthma attack put him in a medically induced coma for 12 days. He said he couldn’t remember anything so had another heart attack and wrote Not Yet. 
People said: He spoke
for the marginalized; he was the champion of the underdog. A brilliant teacher.
He looked healthier and younger than he was and dressed like an undergrad, in
jeans and sweatshirts. He was a 
charismatic drama queen, scripting his life. He had a gentle
stubbornness. More than a prose writer, he was a dramatist, loved the theatre,
musicals, films. He taught racialized and queer writers that they mattered. He
took us all seriously; he let us claim him, and in return, he claimed us. He was a
great, patient listener and made everyone feel special, noticed, valued. He felt he’d been
very lucky all his life. Wanton kindness. Insanely generous. Wise beyond words.
A great man.
Family is who loves you. You are missed and loved, my dear friend. More tears.
Lani just sent this: 
All day I thought about Wayson. I even went to a book sale full of people everywhere. And you know me and crowds. But there were kids. Kids who were picking out books for their parents to buy for them. One little girl who could not have been 2 years old yet wanted her dad to buy her every book she recognized.  She recognized them because she already had them at home.  When her dad pointed that out she said, “Daddy, you can never have too many books.”
I bought 5 kids books to give to the little kids on our block.
Thank you, Wayson, for books. Thank you, Beth, for books. Hope it was a marvellous celebration.
Love, Lani



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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