Peggy Sax (USA) & Sarah Hughes (Canada)
(Sarah) I had the privilege of working for Dulwich Centre Publications as a bookseller and in that capacity I got to travel with Michael and attend many of his workshops. I was not trained as a therapist at all but I loved his ideas and would scribble notes down in a little notebook. I loved that I would get to hear his introduction to narrative ideas over and over as there was always more for me to pick up as my understandings got thicker and richer. I really miss my connection to Michael and long to talk to him some days, but I am lucky to have pieces of his teaching and understandings that seem to come to me in different moments. We know he loved to keep moving forward and I can hear him saying ‘Life is on the move’.
(Peggy) Michael used to regularly come to New England (Burlington, Vermont; Boston, Massachusetts; Portland, Maine). I feel a great loss, knowing he will not be back.
When Michael died, we did not know how his ideas would continue to circulate, and grow. Many of us relied on Michael to bring us together, and to keep us engaged in rigorous practice. Michael encouraged everyone to envelop oneself with a circle of support, especially when going through a time of transition. Now, we are awed by the webs of connection that have emerged and continue to develop since Michael’s death. We do not have other narrative enthusiasts nearby, so we are grateful for the amazing possibilities through an online Collaboration group we have established.
Ideas being carried forth
We will focus on some of Michael’s ideas that seem particularly relevant in adjusting to his death: building community, the rites of passage metaphor, and ‘saying hullo again’.
Michael spoke and wrote about the relevance of the rite of passage metaphor when going through life transition. I (Peggy) often think back to the story he would tell about an interview with a woman in the process of separating from a relationship when he created an outsider-witness group comprised of refugees who shared stories of what inspired them through hardships to transition to a new land. I now think of the relevance of this rite of passage metaphor for us as we transition to a new land where Michael is no longer physically present. I still feel in betwixt and between. However I am also discovering that the ‘liminal state’ can evoke a lot of creative energy, where new possibilities can emerge. Never could I have imagined we could have survived Michael’s death as we have, and to see new growth everywhere.
A lot of people refer to the bitter-sweetness of Michael’s article ‘Saying hullo again’. Just as Michael encouraged others to see, the focus now is not on ‘letting go’ but rather on forging new kinds of connection. I will always feel ‘tethered’ to Michael – as a friend, and through a commitment to honour/extend his legacy. We still miss him and mourn the loss. And we think he would be quite pleased to know how often his presence is with us.