Thursday, February 5, 2015

With Attention Fixed Upon The Open Sky

I don't know what happens when people die.
Can't seem to grasp it as hard as I try.
It's like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I can't sing
But I can't help listening...
- Jackson Browne

As if I ever find myself in need of reminding about the alacrity of time, it has been six years already since my long-ago friend and high school classmate Stuart Solomon died.

Photo from 1983 W-H Yearbook

Six years ago, on this very date, he died while driving his car.  As I have always been given to understand it, it was Stu's heart that betrayed him.  He was just forty-one years young.  

The irony of the preceding paragraph is not lost - even for a moment - on anyone who knew Stu.  He was a giant hulk of a man whose imposing physical presence was surpassed only by his gentle nature.  It takes a big heart to power a big human.  Stu's was as big as that of any person I have ever known.  He never did me a bad turn and I never saw or heard report of him doing one to anyone else.  It is cliche to refer to him as a gentle giant but that was indeed what he was.  

Not too terribly long after we graduated from high school, an occasion that is quickly approaching its thirtieth anniversary, Stu got very, very sick.  As I remember it, in the process of helping fight off whatever pestilence had set its sights upon him, Stu's heart became infected.  For a while, his family was afraid that he would die.  He did not.  Though weakened substantially, his heart refused to quit.  He battled back from very, very bleak circumstances, picked himself up, dusted himself off and did what Stu did:  He lived his life.  

And he continued to so for the next two decades or so thereafter.  He continued to do so right up until a cold February morning six years ago.

A big human being tends to throw a big shadow.  May Stuart's shadow continue to be present and visible to all who loved him and all those he loved...


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