Dec 29, 2008

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In Tribute to Two Men Who Have Enabled Me to Live a Rich Life


                One of the great benefits of being involved in an organization like MDI is that I have a chance to meet and get to know men with whom I could never expect to cross paths with in the circles I typically travel.  The relationships clearly add a subtle depth to who I am and have shifted the way I view the world. Of course the down side to that is the wider the circle, the greater the frequency of incidents of tragedy.  In the past few months I have heard of a number of men who have either died, gotten ill or confronted unexpected tragedy.  I guess as we age, shit happens.  If I get out of denial mode, I’d acknowledge shit is happening to me as well.   The funny thing is I have no problem dealing with my stuff.  I seem to struggle when confronting with the stuff of others though.  I haven’t quite gotten on a handle on how I am supposed to “be”.  So I go to my default mode and just be me and try not to beat myself up too much for things I should have said or done in repose to bad news.

Case in point, two men who I came to develop tremendous respect for – Scott Bye and Kurt Thorne – died unexpectedly.  Both were relatively young, 53 and 47.  Scott had health issues I was aware of, Kurt had a heart problem that he masked really well.   Both had a unique brilliance that I envied.  Both have added immeasurably to my life and in particular to the culture of MDI.  For that I am grateful.

                My original intention was to write a tribute to each.  Incredibly, I’ve been trying to write this for weeks.  It has not been easy to do.  I’m really not sure why.   So my tribute to them will begin and end with the prior paragraph.  They were great human beings.  My only hope is that I conveyed that belief to them when they were alive.  I think that anything else I’d have to say would be more about me than them.  Death, like marriage, is like that.  Everything you wind up feeling has nothing to do with the couple whose wedding you are attending or the funeral you are it.  It is uniquely about your stuff and how those people triggered it.   

              I’ve never been one to mourn loss.  In my mind as long as I have the memories and something tangible that I can access from some one or something that has been part of my life, I haven’t lost anything.    I can honestly say I have never really grieved any one’s death.   That doesn’t mean I don’t miss having them in my life.  A hole’s a hole and it is not that easy to fill but rather than dwelling on what I know longer have I try to be present to what I was left with.   

I think grief comes more from a sense of incompletion than actual loss.  If you think about it we tend to grieve most for the loss of a parent with whom we have had a contentious relationship with rather than one with whom we had a nurturing and healthy one with.  (The exception being when we have as a sense of guilt that leaves us feeling that our parent’s loss has denied us of the opportunity to prove to them that we were not abject failures.)    

In short, don’t feel guilty and go about beating yourself up because you are not crying more over the passing of a loved one.  You are probably not crying because you actually did love them.  Love is a pretty pure emotion and it stays with you a really long time.  I can still vividly recreate moment with my grandfather, Oscar Kofsky, which probably goes back forty years.  I can remember the place, the stubble on his unshaven face when he went to nibble on my ear and the lilt in his voice when he’d tell me that he was out walking my dog, Stymie, so long that “his eyes read empty.”

And I had similar moments with both Scott and Kurt, but they were my moments.  And they will stay that way, they are not going anywhere.

    So I want to give thanks to two men who have contributed not just to me but to hundreds, if not thousands of men and women, many of whom have no idea of the legacy they have left behind.

                And I want to urge you to say what you need to say to the people in your life, and say it now, when it actually means something.


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