Happy Trails to an Irreplaceable Friend

Prairie Burial Ceremony for William Sell
Forest Home Cemetery Green Burial Grounds
Milwaukee Wisconsin
September 6, 2022

Hey Bill. What can I say to you, dear being to whom I was once wed. You went to the gate before us. We can’t accompany you past that gate, though each of us too, will arrive, to the start of something wider than the body. We cheer you on your way, Bill Sell, you who have bloomed so beautifully, and spent yourself so well.

I was the young woman who loved you, Bill, fifty years ago, and brought my infant boy David to your tender, open heart. Though the marriage was sweet and short, what lasted, in so many shapes during more than five decades, was the love. I feel you now just on the other side of the gate, now into your larger adventure. And though we grieve to see you go, we send you on with love.

You’ve given the world your essence, Bill, poured it out like a sacred altar oil. Without your presence in the world, there would have been a hole. Without your Billness, my life so much the poorer. No one like you, my irreplaceable friend. No one, in all the aeons past or ahead, has your stamp, your flavor. You fathered my son as only you could have done.

For knowing you as family, I give great thanks. And I tell you now, Bill, as you are make your way on the other side of the gate, our love goes with you. (Placing a flower on the top of Bill’s burial box):TO YOU, BILL SELL , with deepest gratitude and love!
(The hundred-some people attending the service then came up, each choosing a flower and giving it as their farewell to Bill.)

Susa Silvermarie

My son Dave’s moving eulogy began our goodbye to Bill, five colleagues and siblings then shared  their memories and poems, and my direct address to Bill’s spirit completed it. An informal reception at Bill’s home in Bay View followed. For many hours into the night, many friends from many places on the spectrum of Bill Sell’s wide life, flowed through every room of the house. The installation was a display of his writings, his lifestyle, interviews on five different video monitors, albums and art, a grand book giveaway, and tours of Bill’s prairie gardens. Mostly it was a joyous neighborhood party — a goodbye of great unity, diversity, and hope — perfectly suited to the  man who had taught us all so much by his example, to the beautiful being who had brought us all together. Thank you, Bill Sell.

2 Responses to “Happy Trails to an Irreplaceable Friend

  • Wow. I can only hope my farewell will be as wonderful as this sounded, and that I will have such great lovers and writers to speak such words.

  • Ann Munroe Mullen
    3 weeks ago

    What a lovely tribute, Susa. ❤️