Friday, August 24, 2012

Girl, you won't be forgotten

I'm saying goodbye to a dear old friend tonight, who died in the early hours of the morning in Victoria.  I went looking just now for some photos of Dyhan from the summer of 2007, the year a group of us had a magical four-day camping trip at Cowichan Lake, and was instantly reminded of why I liked her so much.
We met in the mid-2000s, when I first started to get to know some of the people living in the margins in Victoria. We stayed in touch right up until I left for Honduras in January - not in any kind of organized fashion, but bumping into each other at least three or four times a year for long enough to do a quick catch-up and share some  laughs. 
Dyhan was what you'd call "larger than life." The photos from Cowichan Lake show her lounging by the campfire in an evening gown, a scene I remember from that summer with much fondness. Such style -  perched on a log in her gown and her heels, flicking her boa at the smoke. Man, that was a good camping trip.
I know some things about Dyhan, but she's still very much a mystery to me overall. She was a great story-teller, and at times it might have been that the line between truth and fiction got blurred in the telling. One thing you always knew when you talked to Dyhan was that you weren't going to be bored, but it did make it hard to know for sure who she was.
She had one of those bodies that could really make you feel hugged when she greeted you. She was voluptuous, not a word I use often but a perfect fit for Dyhan. She talked fast, laughed a lot, and could almost knock you over with her wildly gesticulating hands when she got into a particularly enthusiastic story-telling. 
Everyone's got their own definition of what constitutes a "good" person, but Dyhan fit mine. She had a kind heart. She loved her children. She looked out for herself. She wanted to do right. I don't know if everybody saw that in her right away, but sooner or later Dyhan would prevail. I saw her win a lot of skeptics over. You just had to like the woman. 
And every time she came into a room it was like watching Mae West arrive. Oh, those boas weren't just for camping. The makeup, the hair, the drama - Dyhan knew how to put it all together.
Dyhan's life had its challenges. She'd been sick many times with various health problems, and money was always an issue in the years when I knew her. But she had a remarkable ability to bounce back. She seemed like one of those people who would always be around. 
Whatever took her in the end, I just hope she got to die peacefully, and that she was wearing a pair of leopard-skin silk pyjamas or a really exotic negligee that I feel certain she would have had in her collection. I know she would have wanted to look good right to the end. 
Rest in peace, dear Dyhan. I'm imagining you right now in whatever world you've moved onto, twirling that boa and telling a funny story about times gone by. Wish we could have had one last hug. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

She was very special. Thanks for writing this.
-Kristine. (PEERS)