This morning the phone rang with news that a colleague, friend and mentor died unexpectedly.
This person was someone who was loosely threaded through so many different chapters of our time in Glens Falls and Queensbury. He walked me through my first press check. He wore a velvet robe and laurel wreath as Father Christmas during the holidays and read Robert Frost to our girls. He brought soups and sauces he made into our first office and then our second office. He sent me messages of wisdom about never letting go of your dreams—he said very plainly, “Don’t ever grow up. Just don’t.”
He kept us honest at work, encouraging us, chiding us and ribbing us in the way only a person who truly cares for you can do. He gave us advice, though in the moments that he gave it we didn’t always immediately embrace it. He was old enough to forgive us our slowness to get it. Our apology and acceptance of his wisdom would come in the way we would all gather during his visits, listening to his stories, laughing and inviting him to share more.
Not more than a couple of days ago he stood in the doorway of my office, he filled it with his tall frame. The headband he wore on anyone else would seem ridiculous, but this person who had so wholly embraced the idea of never ceasing to discover or experience, he of the cross-country journeys, midnight dances and summer nights in teepees, belonged in it. He began talking about a book project he was hoping we’d help with in the coming months. Then he apologized that he hadn’t made good on the offer of a nature walk with the girls and me. “Next spring. Once the cold weather passes we’ll go. I’ll take you along the river. Promise.”
And now he is gone and I didn’t hug him. Didn’t get up from my desk. Didn’t ever realize just how much his comments on photos and quick conversations on the phone had really meant.
I can’t change it. I can remember. We’ll look for you in the spring along the river, old friend.
We’ll imagine you fishing and dancing.