Last night/this morning I attended an event that made CONvergence into a FIVE DAY convention.
CONvergence is usually a three day fan convention with role-playing games, art, community service, music, board games, miniatures, crafts, discussion panels, exotic dancing, martial arts, movies, anime and liquor all brought together to celebrate Science fact, and Speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, and related genres)
But all that changed when Michael Sheard came to the convention TWICE as a guest of honor. He had so much fun, that he got attendees up in arms and the chant "FIVE DAYS" could be heard every year since, encouraging the board and the con committee to extend the convention.
Michael Sheard was beloved by many at the convention, including me. He was just special, and touched many people (literally and figuratively) in the short amount of time we had him with us.
Which is what he has in common with another man. Someone I never met, but saw walking around all the time. Someone most of my friends knew, and someone who inspired fierce friendship and love. A man called "Roadkill".
People like Michael and Roadkill kind of demand your attention...but unlike people who are just demanding your attention so that they can feel special, they were more the kind of people who walk next to you and say "Hey! Look at that!" and then you realize you were walking along looking at your feet. And then, just as you get too absorbed in the wonder and magic of what they were pointing at, they make some comment that makes you feel a little dumb for almost missing it, a little goofy for getting too sentimental about it, and hey it's OK 'cause you're there sharing it with them and it's all good, fogedddaboutit - "Hey! look at that!"
Roadkill developed a brain tumor and passed away this year and we lost Michael Sheard long before that.
While Roadkill was in hospice, Tim Wick went to visit him several times, and told Roadkill that he wanted to do a memorial, and asked Roadkill what he would like done in remembrance.
Roadkill responded: "I would like you to smash a chocolate fish".
So, at a special event, held at 12:01 AM this morning (which made our special 10th anniversary four-day convention officially a FIVE DAY convention), Tim Wick presided over the first ever chocolate fish smashing ceremony I have ever witnessed.
A bit of smashed chocolate fish, followed by a shot of Tattoo spiced rum with some of Roadkill's friends was the strangest eucharist I have ever experienced (the similarity wasn't intentional, and I think I'm the only one who observed it) I shared a toast with a small knot of Roadkill’s friends, because even though I didn’t know the guy, I knew the guy. I wanted to honor the place he'd had in their lives, because it reflected something I understand and honor very deeply.
The gathering ended with "five days" sung over and over again to the tune of Amazing Grace, with people laughing their butts off.
And for about an hour we remembered Roadkill and Michael, and a whole bunch of other people who kept us from looking at our shoes, missing things we shouldn't miss, taking things too seriously, dismissing things too lightly, wrapping ourselves up too tightly, and generally forgetting that we are sharing the road.
[Update: I found this lovely video posted on Pharyngula in a strange bit of synergy] - NSFW - bad language