It's unusual to fall in love with a set of ideas, but by the time I got back home to Vancouver, I couldn't get the sneaky poo session or your ideas out of my head. Somehow, your insights stuck to me, and I set out on the arduous task of reading everything you'd written and every author you'd listed in your reference section. The ideas resonated and kept on resonating—to this day.
It wasn't until Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends, by you and David Epston, appeared in 1990 that your ideas began to get traction on the other side of the planet from Australia and New Zealand. The book was thick with poststructural theory, and people had difficulty understanding the ideas. Even so, what you were saying caught on. In 1994, through published descriptions of your methods in the Networker, your Dulwich Centre writings, continuing workshop presentations, and coverage in Newsweek, your influence in the field rose to another level, and therapists around the world began to listen more closely to your ideas.
You were always an unlikely therapy celebrity. I remember watching you enter an evening reception filled with 500 therapists, at an international narrative therapy conference in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2004. I knew that each and every person in the crowd wanted to spend time with you. But instead of talking with the members of your large professional following, you made a beeline for my daughters Hannah and Tessa, who were 8 years old at the time. The three of you laughed and giggled and joked all night long. I understood from the beginning of our friendship that you were usually much more comfortable and self-assured in the company of children. You trusted them completely.
Dammit, Michael, I've lost such a dear friend in you, and the world has lost a gorgeous theoretical thinker and therapist. Thanks so much for the generosity of your ideas and love. You'll be missed, and I'm so proud to have known you. I guess it's now up to each and every one of us within narrative therapy circles and beyond to carry your ideas forward. My presumption is that's the way you'd want it.
I never imagined writing this letter to you. Thanks again, Mikey, and happy trails.
Stephen Madigan, Ph.D., opened Yaletown Family Therapy, the first narrative therapy training clinic in the northern hemisphere, and is currently writing a book on narrative therapy for the American Psychological Association. Contact: www.stephenmadigan.ca. Letters to the Editor about this article may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.