Clear day after weeks of rain and then snow. The sun hasn't come too soon for me.
A few days after my fathers funeral in 1999 my sister and I cleared out his room, on his dresser was a photograph in a silver frame. The photograph was black and white of an old friend of his who had passed away some forty years before. The man was riding an elephant, it must have been taken at a circus or a fair. and the man was wearing a checked sport coat and a hat that was customary in the fifties or early sixties. The inscription read: Dear Walt, Us Elephants Never Forget, Love Bill Bruns" It had sat on his dresser for more than thirty years. Bill Bruns had worked with my dad, and had been his good friend. His death had been hard on my Dad.
Some deaths are harder than others. Some deaths ring like bells across the valley and echo into your heart reminding you of mortality in a way that you have never known before, for me it was when Bill Smith's fishing boat went down off the west coast of Baranoff Island. Other deaths have hurt and will hurt again dreadfully, I'm sure but Bill's death woke me up to the reality of being mortal.
Ryan Kauffman died last night after a year long fight. He was taken too soon. His friends fought hard right along side of him. I'm sure this will be a hard death for many of them. He was so vivacious, so active and his disease seemed so unfair.
This is not a testimonial. I'll leave that to those who loved him and knew him well. He left a big mark. I just wanted to acknowledge all those who loved him and are suffering tonight. Your goodness, I have to believe, should be of some comfort now. An act to answer the need of the suffering helps the suffering of all of us. I honestly believe that. You acted unselfishly, and lovingly for a good man, and this was a healing act for everyone.
Of course, you don't need me to remind you of this. I'm only mentioning this because we are going into Thanksgiving and it is my favorite holiday. Gratitude: I am always grateful for the people in this town. We are grateful for the love that we have around us, every second of every day. It is this love that makes the hard goodbyes endurable. I just feel an impulse now to thank all the good, loving people who help the sick and the suffering in our town. I want to thank Ryan's family and friends for sharing him with us. Your goodness heals all of us and us elephants never forget.
Pine siskins skitter
across our icy-white lawn,
under cold blue skies.