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The last Gathering of the Gargoyles.
I can't help feeling the kind of rending melancholy that comes with KNOWING beyond all hope of doubt and denial that an important element of your life is past.
I honestly don't think I would be alive today if not for the Gathering, and the wonderful friends I made there. I attended my first Gathering in 1999, at a very pivotal time in my life, when I felt very alone and afraid and freakish in the world. The Gathering and the people there showed me that I wasn't alone, that there wasn't so much to be afraid of, and that even if I AM strange, the people who really matter in life will love me in part because of my strangeness, not in spite of it. To a very young and frightened me, I do think that this meant the difference between life and death, which I had seriously contemplated more than once at that time.
I also owe the first great love of my life to the Gathering. Even though it didn't have the happy ending I wanted, I still wouldn't trade having loved and lost for anything at all.
Many stories of how Gargoyles and the Gathering touched all of us were shared during closing ceremonies. I chose to share one of my favourite happy memories--of my first Gathering, when an acquaintance and I had put on our costumes before the banquet. We were riding down in the elevator in all of our makeup when the elevator slowed to a stop, and we decided we would roar at whoever was on the other side of the doors. As the doors opened, we struck fierce poses and bellowed at the top of our lungs...at THOM ADCOX. We were VERY embarrassed, but after startling poor Thom, all three of us had a good laugh.
There was as much laughter as there were tears, because at its end, the taste of the day was bittersweet, indeed.
I know that all of these wonderful people that I call friends will find ways to meet up and spend time together, and we will without a doubt stay in touch, but there is a deep sting in knowing that this one event about something that we all have in common and that brought us all together is no longer there. At least, not in the form that we know it.
From what I hear, there was a lot of talk about what the future holds. While I hold the foundations upon which the present is built very dear and feel a sharp sense of loss, I remind myself of what may still yet come. I don't think this will be the last convention dedicated to Gargoyles. I do think that the future holds more, because I know that this group of people is nothing if not dedicated and passionate and fierce in our loyalty to each other and to what we love.
I'm not sure I have the words, but I will say that I'm glad the Gathering has a positive influence on your life. And I'm glad to have you as a friend, Kyt.