by Beth Cioffoletti
Have you ever known a person to whom you were strongly attracted and yet somewhat annoyed with at the same time? Pay attention. My theory is that person is very significant to you.
Mev Puleo is such a person for me. I only knew Mev for a week â€“ we were roommates while traveling with a Pax Christi mission in Haiti in 1992.
We were different. Mev was very extroverted (like my sister), and could annoy me with her constant chatter (like my sister). Mev was 28 years old at the time, and I was 42. She was newly married and I had been married for almost 20 years by then, and had a little boy at home.
But we were similar as well. We were both fundamentally, at our core, Catholic (me in my way, she in hers). And we were both passionately committed to social justice.
Andrew Wimmer writes A Beautiful Kaddish about Mev (and Mark, and Noam Chomsky and the brain tumor â€“ the book). He mentions â€œthe boneâ€:
She was also relentless. She had the bone in her mouth
and wouldnâ€™t let go.
Not everyone knows what to do with the bone.
Mev had more than a few ideas.
Thatâ€™s what the boy from Louisville fell in love with,
the clear eyes and the bone.
His Hound of Heaven.
(There was hardly any time to sleep.)
I paid close attention to Mev during that week in Haiti. I could pick out her weaknesses and I could see her extraordinary charisma, focus and courage. There were parts about Mev that I absolutely loved, especially her naturalness and comfort with her body and her uninhibited laughter.
Mev is my missing puzzle piece. Even though I never told her as much, she became my teacher, the one who could show me some ways of how to do and be that were buried in me, and that I needed to uncover.
Mev died of a brain tumor less that 3 Â½ years after that week in Haiti. But I have remembered Mev, much in the way that I remember my parents. I remember the details of how Mev was in life â€“ incarnate â€“ and I carry this memory like an icon.
Mevâ€™s husband, Mark Chmiel, wrote a book about Mev this year, 10 years after her death. He sent me a copy.
The first week I had it, I dwelled upon it, picking out passages and looking, again and again, at the photos. This is a powerful book â€“ it is personal. Mark shares his life with Mev, the details of who and how Mev was, their meeting and their love, the struggle for social justice in which their lives were lived. And he tells the intimate story of Mevâ€™s dying.
For several months, I just looked at the book without opening it. It is that powerful.
Originally posted at http://quotesandmusings.blogspot.com/2006/07/mev-puleo-1963-1996.html