"Goodnight Duchess Sussex. You made our world a more dangerous, exciting place. I will miss you."
I posted a query in response: "Is she retiring?" It seemed to follow at the time. The costumes are heavy; the days strenuous.
Not five minutes later the same friend called me.
I could not have been more shocked to hear of her passing. I was told she died in her sleep. After just another day of performing. She was standing; interacting; jesting; glowing just hours before. Faring people well. Shooing them out. Lining at gauntlet. Trudging back down the hill. Hanging up her gown. Never to don it again. Perhaps she was of poorer health than anyone knew. Maybe she was fading quietly. It is my understanding that she was a cancer survivor and I'm sure none would characterize her as anything but strong; stubborn; determined like no other.
61 just feels too young. Too soon. I wasn't ready. Was anyone?
I met Lorraine for the first time in 2009. Faire was my first theatrical venture since I graduated college in 2007. I was a deer in headlights the first few rehearsals. Introverted. Lorraine was perhaps the first person I warmed to. Made me feel at ease. I don't remember how she introduced herself that first day, but I'm thinking it had a wry curse in it. It wasn't "Hell hath no fury like Duchess Sussex", but it was something equivalent and witty. I know some of my cast mates disliked our history lessons, but I loved hearing her bullet the entirety of the Renaissance for us. I may just have to pull out my handbook to read it again . . . look at my notes . . . see if I scribbled any funny quotes . . . pause to recall . . .
I remember pairing up and receiving recognition for a florification exercise. Nothing felt better than receiving her recognition.
I remember going to sit with her and another during a fairly pointless joint rehearsal. I wanted to work on my dialect and grammar rather than sit idly. She smiled and helped me along.
I remember running around with my cast brother (like the idiots we were). We ran all the way down the hill, took a right at the pickle vendor, and flew into The Globe. I was just chasing him, with some aggravated motivation. Lorraine came in shortly after. She told us that there were children we entranced with our bit, so she wanted to extend it. She then kicked us out of Globe and yelled at us. To see her approval and her smile was such a simple joy.
I remember co-creating a grovel for her the following year. We dubbed it "The Sussex Special." I performed it for her in all my glory: instead of a curtsey, I clutched my neck and fell over instead.
I have never once begrudged my casted station . . . I adored being a peasant. But I do feel a twinge of regret now . . . if I had been noble I feel as if my time with her would not have been so fleeting. I passed her often, but only from here to there; rarely pausing. I delivered missives and messages but we never shared that "one awesome bit" together.
You know, it's kind of amusing and pathetic that I can't quite recall any of our "out-of-character" conversations . . . I think I was just so in awe and happy that they were occurring at all that I didn't retain an ounce of it. I just listened intently and sopped up the moment like a sponge. I can only hope I wasn't drooling out of the corner of my mouth.
It is with my own memories, and the memories of many, that we remember you, Lorraine. You were so much more than The Duchess. You WERE Faire. You were in every sign, every Times, on every lane, unpaved to paved. The tears I shed are such a gift because they tell me that I knew you, however briefly.