Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving in a Time of Loss

This Thanksgiving is, for me and my family, a time of mourning. On Tuesday of this week we celebrated the life of my father, who passed away a few short weeks ago. I sit now in my childhood home and find myself expecting to see my father at every turn.

It's easy to fall into melancholy memories, to sit there in the aching remembrance of a childhood whose pains are long forgotten but whose joys are as clear as they're out of reach--joys bound up with my father, who is now gone. It's easy, in such moments, to lose touch with the spirit of gratitude that we celebrate today.

The experience of loss is part of the human condition, and it is often felt most keenly during the holidays, when established rituals are pregnant with memories. On the first holiday after a loved one has passed away, the empty spaces left behind are especially potent: the place where she sat, the role he played in preparing the meal, the story she always told, the distinctive resonance of his laughter.

You look with habitual expectation and find yourself jolted by absence. With time, of course, the habits fade. The absence no longer hits with such a shock. But it remains an empty space.  And as we grow older, there will, inevitably, be more such spaces.  

This year my family confronts my father's absence--my father who was always the attentive host, the one who raised the glass in our welcoming "Skål," who always made sure everyone had what they needed. How can we help but feel his absence, so fresh and vivid, as we sit down to the Thanksgiving feast? What does it mean for this holiday, whose purpose is to offer thanks, to turn our eyes upward in a spirit of gratitude, to thank God for the gifts of life?

Part of the answer is offered afresh every day by my children. When I find myself falling into the past, longing for what is gone, I'm grateful to my children who exist so wholly in the joys of the present that I'm forced to live there too. And I'm thankful for my own childhood and the family that made it possible--imperfect as all human families are imperfect, but defined by the kind of love that casts a long shadow into the future. 

Were it not for that love, I wouldn't feel the ache of loss. Those who are gone move us to mourn because, when they were with us, we were present with them, attending to them, loving them. And so loss must recall love, and love must flow out again into this place where we find ourselves now, this place where joy waits to be tasted along with the feast. We honor love by loving. We revere treasured memories by make new ones. 

Another part of the answer hit me on Monday night as I was sitting at the table with friends and family who had arrived in town for the memorial service. We drank wine from the wine rack my father had filled (with his impeccable taste), and we told stories and laughed (and cried) and ate together late into the evening. We were living and present to each other, thankful for who my father was and for each other. We were alive and living our lives at the table together. 

And I thought about the final notes of the violin piece I'd composed for my father's service. A "double stop"--two notes of a chord played together. And the thing that struck me is this: When you play two sustained notes of a chord on a violin, the interaction of the sound waves audibly produces the third note in the chord. If you listen carefully for it you can actually hear it. It's there, sounding clearly above the other two. 

And of course my father was there, in just that way, as we gathered at the table. And as we gather for our feast tonight, he'll be there again, sounding clear and true.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In Memorium: Paul H Reitan, August 18, 1928-October 30, 2011

I don’t know if many people beyond my immediate family knew about my father’s capacity for silly dancing. He was a quiet man, reserved with his feelings—in many ways very classically Nordic in temperament. He was a college professor who looked and carried himself like a college professor, who spoke with a combination of careful deliberation and passion about topics that mattered to him. In later years, he was a wise elder statesman of sorts for the community of geoscientists devoted to making the geosciences relevant to contemporary social and environmental problems.

But I remember him dancing in the kitchen while we were washing dishes. It wasn’t quality dancing. And it wasn’t flamboyant. It was very deliberate, almost stately, but at the same time utterly absurd. He’d furrow his bushy brow and perform each move as if it were a thing of regal beauty, even though it was just…well, lifting one arm, then another, then a leg. Kind of a slow-motion hokey pokey.
My parents would sometimes have parties that lasted well into the night: gatherings of well-travelled people with intellectual and artistic sensibilities who’d sit for hours around the dinner table talking energetically, laughing, eating, and drinking fine wines or imported beers (sometimes with Aquavit if it was a Norwegian smorgasbord featuring pickled herrings and smoked fish).

It wasn’t uncommon, in these gatherings, for some kind of silly dancing to erupt late into the evening. Once, when I was a child, I remember wandering downstairs because I heard something utterly uncharacteristic: the sound of an electric guitar playing on the stereo. My parents never listened to anything but classical music, usually classical vocal music. But on this evening they’d abruptly decided to put on an LP of Czech rock music—something they’d gotten as a gift from some friends who lived in Prague.
As I came down the stairs, I saw my father dancing in a descending spiral, finally ending up in a heap on the carpet. What else could he do, when a drawn out electric guitar note was descending steadily down, down, down?

Another time, years later, I remember a line dance through the house to the tune of Hava Nagila (played by me on the violin).
And, of course, there were the more traditional folk dances that we did around the Christmas tree every Christmas Eve without fail. My mother would play the piano (or, in later years, I’d play my violin). But my father always danced.

One of my great regrets is that I never got to do an Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshop with him. AVP is an organization founded by a collaboration between prison inmates at Greenhaven Correctional Facility and the local Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). AVP runs experiential workshops—in prisons and in community settings—focusing on conflict resolution and communication skills, community-building, and cultivating the psychological/spiritual resources for living a more nonviolent life.
Not long after I became an AVP workshop facilitator, I introduced my parents to the program. They both went through a basic workshop, but my father got hooked. He went on to become a facilitator himself, and after his retirement worked for about a decade coordinating the AVP program at Wende Correctional Center in upstate New York. I understand that he became something of a beloved grandfather for many of the inmates he worked with there.

One of the distinctive things about an AVP workshop is that, for all the seriousness of the skills and personal resources being cultivated, a spirit of play weaves its way through the whole. This comes out most clearly in what are called “Light and Livelies,” activities that are a bit like the ones that parents plan for their grade-schoolers’ birthday parties (except more fun). Intense discussions, deep sharings, thought-provoking activities—all are woven together by a spirit of play.
After all, what is the point of passionate engagement with social issues, of intellectual inquiry and deep personal sharing, of learning nonviolent communication and conflict resolution skills? What is the point, if not to work towards a world where people can enjoy their lives together more richly, laugh more often, delight in one another more fully? What’s the purpose, if not to learn how to unburden ourselves of all the crud that we too often carry with us, especially in our intimate relationships, so that those relationships may become, more truly, a source of childlike joy?

It’s no wonder that my father was drawn to AVP in his retirement, or that he was such a good and well-loved facilitator. Because although he may have looked the role of a quiet elder statesman imparting wisdom with passion and clarity—although he was such a quiet elder statesman—there was always in his heart a spirit of play.
My mother, in the days following my father’s death, expressed over and over her sense of privilege in the midst of loss: the privilege of being able to live 49 years with one of the best men she’d ever known. I had the privilege of being raised by him. And if there’s a personal basis for my staunch opposition to those exclusivist theologies that condemn to hellfire anyone who fails to embrace the doctrinal details and practices of their brand of faith, it lies in this: My father, an agnostic scientist, was one of the best men I’ve known. He could never share my Christian faith, but he was the first to treat it with respect. He could never see his way to believing beyond what his scientifically-trained mind saw as evidence. But he proudly bought up copies of my first book and mailed them to everyone he knew, include some very staunch atheists.

And the idea that he should be eternally rejected by the God of love because he couldn’t bring himself to believe this or that religious doctrine—well, the idea isn’t just absurd. It’s evil. It’s the kind of crud that keeps people apart, that stifles and truncates our capacity to find joy in each other, to love more fully and richly.
If there’s something I’ve learned from my father, it’s that good, thoughtful people can and do see things differently—often because they can’t help it given their upbringing, their experiences, their inspirations and their loves. None of us can pay adequate attention to it all; none of us can draw all the right conclusions from what we do attend to with care. But we can learn from each other.

Sometimes I get passionate about things, and I debate vigorously with those who disagree. Sometimes I pursue causes in the knowledge that others stand opposed to me. In this I’m like my father. I only hope that, like my father, I can remain focused on what it’s all about. If my father  cared so much about the environment, about war and violence, to become passionately engaged in debates and causes, it was for the sake of furthering the kind of community that AVP forges, of lifting the impediments to its spread, of helping to realize a world where everyone can dance.

Monday, November 7, 2011

From the Archives: Some Reflections on Kierkegaard

Having missed my classes last week due to my father's passing, I'm a bit behind--especially in my philosophy religion class, since we could find a substitute for only one of the days I was out of town. Since one of the topics that was slated for discussion last week was Kierkegaard's fideism, I can make up at least some of the lost class time by directing my students to this blog post from the archives--an explication and reflection on Kierkegaard's fideism. And so I reproduce it here.

Fideism is generally defined as the thesis that it is sometimes appropriate (especially in relation to ultimate matters pertaining to the fundamental nature of reality and the meaning of our lives) to believe something on faith rather than based on reason and evidence, perhaps even in the teeth of reason and evidence.

What this means depends on what we take believing something “on faith” to mean. In practice if not in theory, believing something “on faith” often ends up meaning essentially the same as believing it “just because” (where there is absolutely nothing after the “because”), and doing so with complete certainty that one is right (again, with no foundation at all). Typically, the believer then adds that this conviction is due to God implanting it, even though one has no reason to think that God implanted it.

Understood in this sense, if I happen to believe that the entire population of African elephants is right at this moment flying around inside my refrigerator, then so long as I have no reason and evidence for believing this but remain firm in my belief, and so long as I insist that I believe it because God implanted the belief in me (even though I have no reason at all for thinking that this is true), then I am believing it on faith. Seen in this light, it becomes a challenge to justify the worth that is so often attached to believing something on faith.

But this isn’t Kierkegaard’s fideism. In fact, if fideism is defined in terms of believing things without evidence, I think one misses Kierkegaard’s point altogether. Because for Kierkegaard, faith isn’t really about what you believe at all. In fact, so long as what you care the most about is the content of your belief, faith in Kierkegaard’s sense has eluded you.

Consider an analogy. Suppose you meet someone for whom you feel an immediate attraction. You go on a few dates. You start to fall in love. In fact, you feel yourself falling hard. But then you pause and ask yourself, “Who is this person, really? Does she deserve my love? Is she the kind of person with whom I can sustain a long-term relationship?” Suppose you take these questions seriously and so back off from your burgeoning feelings so as to get an appropriately objective perspective. You investigate her history, interview her friends and her boss at work, all the while not letting your feelings for her color what you hear, since you want to get a wholly objective picture. Finally, through this process, you come to know more facts about her than virtually any other person alive.

But, of course, at this point the rhythm of love has been shattered. You have no romantic feelings for her anymore because you’ve stifled them in favor of a wholly objective consideration of what is true and false about her. Likewise, in the process of doing this, she’s sensed your withdrawal and moved on emotionally. Even should you decide from what you learn that a love relationship with her might be a good idea “on paper,” the very process of pursuing such an investigation has killed any chance of having such a love relationship in fact. Furthermore, the things you learn through such an objective investigation are the wrong things in any event. What really matters for whether a love relationship is possible depends on what you learn through relating to her as a lover.

When it comes to the ultimate nature of reality, Kierkegaard thinks something along the same lines is the case. Kierkegaard tells us that “the highest truth is that the knower is an existing subject,” by which he means that the most important thing for me to know is that I am a subject of experiences with a life to live and relationships to form. One of those relationships is with reality—with the world around me as it truly is. But if I investigate the world objectively and dispassionately, in order to collect all the right facts about it, I become like the deluded fool who squashes any chance at actually being in love with a real person because he is too focused on collecting all those facts that can only be collected by setting passionate interest aside.

The real truth about me is that I am a creature who cares passionately, and to be true to myself, I must live passionately in relation to the world. If I squash that passion in favor of objectivity, I stifle the truth about me and so fail to live the truth—all for the sake of collecting propositions that are more likely to be objectively factual. I end up living a life that is utterly false to what it means to be the kind of being I am—and my consolation is a collection of facts.

Consider the following passage from Kierkegaard (in which Kierkegaard is assuming for the sake of argument what he will readily admit is unknowable, namely that the Christian God is the true God—that, in other words, what Christians believe is true):

If one who lives in a Christian culture goes up to God’s house, the house of the true God, with a true conception of God, with knowledge of God and prays—but prays in a false spirit; and one who lives in an idolatrous land prays with the total passion of the infinite, although his eyes rest on the image of an idol; where is there most truth? The one prays in truth to God, although he worships an idol. The other prays in untruth to the true God and therefore really worships an idol.

Kierkegaard frames the question in terms of objectivity and subjectivity—such that believing the correct doctrines is characterized as the objective side of faith, while believing in the right way, with the right kind of passion and love and attention to one’s relationship with the object of devotion, is the subjective side. I think this characterization may actually be misleading, because in reality both of these aspects of faith are subjective. Believing the right doctrines is a subjective achievement. My beliefs are a subjective matter, and hence believing in the truth is one dimension of having the “right” kind of subjective relationship to the truth. The other dimension is having the right kind of passion, the right kind of attitude, towards the object of belief.

The objective reality—such as the truth about God, about whether God exists at all and what He is like—is a different matter than how closely my beliefs correspond with this truth. And it may well be the case (as Kierkegaard seems to think) that it is impossible to ascertain how closely my beliefs about God correspond to reality. But that, of course, is Kierkegaard’s point: If I devote myself to this question, and to the task of bringing my beliefs about ultimately reality into alignment with ultimate reality as it is in itself, I am devoting myself to a task that, when pursued dispassionately, becomes a distraction from living life (which is passionate). And since this question about ultimate reality is unanswerable, a commitment to answering it before I decide what attitude to adopt towards the universe and how to live my life amounts to the decision to refuse to live a human life at all.

Now I think there’s something to all of this—but I want to make several qualifications. First, sometimes an objective study of something can be an expression of one’s passionate devotion. Because I love my wife, I pay attention to little details about how she moves, about the inflections of her voice. I want to hold these things in my heart accurately, and so there are moments when I attend so closely to her that I lose sight of myself for awhile. Likewise, the best scientists are full of wonder at the physical world—and their devotion to describing it accurately is a manifestation of that passion.

Second, our beliefs affect our attitudes and passions (and, of course, our attitudes and passions affect what we believe). We cannot cleanly separate the two. If I come to believe that my wife has cheated on me or that she disdains me, that would affect our relationship. If I come to believe that God is indifferent to human needs and human suffering—even that God is cruel and hateful—these beliefs will almost certainly impact my attitude towards God. It will be hard to sustain a passionate devotion in the light of these beliefs. More to the point, such devotion would be unfitting.

While it is true that a focus on dispassionately collecting facts about a potential romantic partner is inimical to actually having a romantic relationship, it also true that some people are blinded by their passions and so fail to see ugly truths about the object of their devotion—and their love is thereby rendered pathetic or even dangerous.

And when it comes to loving reality as it is in itself, such love is hardly being expressed when one unswervingly clings to certain beliefs about reality and loves them with all the passion of the infinite while ignoring reasons to doubt their veracity. In that case, the object of love has become one’s own picture of reality. One has become an idolater.

So how are we to pursue the balancing act between believing the right things about ourselves, others, and reality, and living the right way in relation to all of these things? I think Kierkegaard may be best understood as a kind of pragmatist—but not Pascal’s kind. Pascal saw faith as a betting game, in which you bet on the side which offers the highest payoff and the lowest risk. But for Kierkegaard, the proper analogy is not that offered by the betting table, in which you calculate which is your safest bet. Rather, it is that little table in the bistro, sitting across from someone you think you might be falling in love with, aware of the risks and costs of giving your heart in error, but prepared, for the sake of living life, to take the leap.

But if that is the right analogy, then what are the implications for how we construe reality at the most fundamental level, for what kind of meaning we attach to our lives, and for our decisions about the kind of life we forge? Surely it's not blind and unwavering dogmatism, but rather a habit of learning from one's leaps.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Death and Time

I know I said I probably wouldn't blog again for awhile. But last night I lay awake for awhile, things running through my head, and I knew I needed to process it in writing, put it into words. I'm still at my parents house in Buffalo, feeling ghosts and grief. 

Yesterday I fixed my mother her Friday martini--something my father had done with a religiosity that belied his personal lack of religion. The last Friday before his death he wasn't able to do it, and he expressed to my mother his regret.

I made it too strong, but my mother drank it anyway, and we listened to Sumi Jo, a Korean soprano. We cried a little, and talked about music, and about the perfect photograph of my father for the memorial service.

The phone rang. It was Uncle Ralph, my father's brother. There was a time when my father and Ralph were estranged--a conflict involving another brother, Harold. Because of my father's childhood family role as Harold's caretaker (Harold had contracted polio, and couldn't use his arms), my father had fallen into a dysfunctional relationship with him, one which Harold reflexively took advantage of in numerous ways. Ralph pointed this out, perhaps not gently, and my father came to Harold's defense.

It took some years for my father to realize that Ralph was right. It took some more years for them to become close again. Of the five siblings, it was clear that the two of them were the most alike (and not just because they virtually looked like twins). They were kindred spirits, both of them with similar outlooks on the world, both accomplished scientists (Uncle Ralph the more accomplished, considered by many the father of modern neuropsychology). And so in later years they built--or perhaps rebuilt--a strong emotional attachment.

When my mother answered the phone, Ralph could barely talk through his sobbing. When he finally was able to talk, he told my mother what was, for me, a revelatory story. After a lifetime as brothers, what Ralph told my mother about was how he felt when my father was born. He was six years old, and he just loved this little baby boy--loved him so much that he ran home from school day after day in his eagerness to see him.

I could imagine this little first grader holding the baby, maybe feeling the silky head against his cheek, awash in affection. And now, after growing up together during trying times in American history (the Great Depression, World War II), after estrangement and reconnection--after more than eighty years of history together, when he heard about his little brother's death it was as if he was losing that little baby boy. As if death, somehow, has the power to erase time...or, perhaps, the power to erase our temporality.

I lay awake in the night, thinking about this. Because I knew in my own way the same thing. I'm a middle-aged man. I moved out of my childhood home well over half my life ago. But on confronting my father's death, I am that little boy hiding under the kitchen table with my sister, and my father is peeking under at us and calls us Englebert and Humperdink. And how can that little boy manage without his Papa?

Of course, I'm not that little boy. That little boy had his Papa, was lucky enough to have his Papa. And I, a husband and father, teacher and writer, will manage. I have plenty to do. But I think about the way the death of loved ones seems to unmoor us from the inevitable forward flow of time. I think about Einstein's understand of time, as a fourth dimension, one in which every moment is as real as the present, nothing lost with age. I'm reminded of Boethius's understanding of God's eternity, an ancient refection on time that parallel's Einstein's: God isn't trapped in the flow, but is present at each moment "at once." This is the perspective of eternity: to be eternal is to stand, not so much outside of time, but within every moment of it in the way that each of us inhabits the present moment.

If Einstein is right about time, then the mystery is why we experience it as we do. The standard contemporary answer--that biological organisms resist or move against the flow of entropy in the universe--is not so much an answer as a gesture: "Somehow, maybe, this fact has something to do with it." Were I to speculate, I'd say that experiencing time as we do is essential to our status as agents, as selves who act, causally, in the world. To be part of the chain of cause and effect, we need to inhabit time in the way we do, first experiencing the moment of decision, then the moment of outcomes.

Perhaps death is the threshold to eternity--not in the full sense that Boethius takes God to be eternal, but in some deep sense. At death, as our consciousness hits the outer edge of our experience in this life, we subjectively hit the place where another perspective on time becomes possible. Even when it is the death of another, the death of a loved one, we sense the strangeness of time as we experience it, we feel the tug of another perspective.

And so we're jarred loose. The years evaporate. For a moment we're children again, re-inhabiting an earlier slice of our world. We're holding a precious little baby brother, smelling him, savoring him. Or we're laughing underneath a table, looking at Papa's slippers and savoring the silly names he gives to us.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Monumental and Routine

I've been thinking those words a lot over the last ten days: "Monumental and routine." As I saw it approaching--this universal thing, this utterly enormous and shattering thing--my gaze would drift to my right hand.

I wear a ring there--on the middle finger--that many people mistake for a wedding band. They wonder why I have one on each hand. It's an understandable mistake.  The ring is old, and the raised area with the stylized harp stamp is well-worn and hard to see. It is, in fact, a Norwegian PhD ring that my father received from the University of Oslo when he finished his degree in Geology. When I earned my PhD, my father passed it on to me. The gift was a reserved man's way of saying, "I love you more than you can know, and I feel connected to you, and I am so very proud." I've worn it ever since.

Less than two weeks ago my family got word that my father's cancer--which had occasioned the removal of his bladder last winter--had spread to the abdomen and liver. Last week, on Tuesday, the oncologist gave his assessment: Without any treatment, he could expect to live weeks. With chemo, he might stretch it to months.

Wanting another holiday with the family, my father opted for a chemo treatment for later that week. I ordered a plane ticket to fly home the following week, so that I could be sure to see him again before the end. I just assumed there'd be that much time. He was ill but walking, talking, hoping to try out the Skype camera they'd finally managed to get hooked up to their computer. When I talked to him on the phone, he expressed regret that, as things were, they probably wouldn't be able to come to Oklahoma for Christmas. I assured him we'd come there.

I was supposed to fly to Buffalo on Thursday of this week--tomorrow--but on Sunday afternoon my sister called, urging me to come sooner. His condition was rapidly deteriorating. She'd asked him if he could hold out until Thursday, and he'd said yes. But she didn't believe him.

I changed my ticket so that I'd leave first thing the next morning. I started packing my bags, not really sure what I was doing. I put the kids to bed--who abruptly decided they wanted to curl up together in one bed "like we do sometimes on vacation." They sensed this was a different kind of night. A couple of hours later I got the phone call that he'd died.

The next morning, a friend drove me to the Tulsa airport. It was a trip I've taken dozens of times--and most often to fly where I was flying now, to Buffalo, to visit my family there. The passage through security--empty pockets, take off belt and shoes, take liquids bag out of carry-on--had the feel of habit. But this time, what waited at the end of the journey was an empty space.

As my first plane was getting ready to take off, I reached into my carry-on bag for something to read. It's what I always do on a plane. I sit and read, usually a fantasy or science fiction novel.  As I reached into the bag I saw the cap my eight-year-old son had insisted I pack. He'd snatched it down from a door knob as I was scurrying madly about to get ready for the unexpected flight. He told me I should take it with me and show it to "Fafa." Because, of course, my father loved caps. He'd been bald since his twenties and had devised a creative assortment of ways to protect himself from a sunburned scalp.

But even within the context of my father's collection, this cap would've stood out. I'd imagined sitting next to him, wearing it, telling him his grandson wanted him to see it. I can picture his smile. And so I found myself turning away from the woman next to me on the plane, choking on the rush of feelings. Stupid Perry the Platypus cap.

I thought about all the people who'd come up to me over the last few days, who'd heard about my father's condition, about the inevitability and uncertainty of it all. "I remember going through that with my mother." "I just went through that this spring." "I'm so sorry. Liver cancer took my dad."

Monumental and routine.

On Friday, two of my father's former students flew to see him--one from Norway, the other from Sicily. My father sat up with them on Friday evening, weak but excited to see them, talking with them about their research. On Saturday he was weaker but still alert. He couldn't talk as much, but he listened.

A third former student was on a business trip in California when he learned about my father's illness, and so delayed his return flight to Russia and arrived in Buffalo on Sunday. When he arrived, my father said his name. It was one of the few moments that day when my mother felt sure he was aware of what was going on.

I didn't make it there before he died, but he was surrounded, even so, by sons. Their devotion moved me but didn't surprise me. My father had been more than a teacher to them. Year after year my parents provided a home-away-from-home for the international graduate students in the geology department. They became family. My parents talked about their "adopted kids" in Italy, Poland, Korea, Russia, Norway. The relationships endured for years after the students had graduated (or, as the case may be, dropped out).

I'm pretty sure that each of the sons who surrounded him at his death had, at one point or another, lived in my parents' finished basement. They'd certainly spent many hours around the unfinished wooden dining room table, talking and laughing and drinking wine (or beer if it was a beer meal, or Aquavit and beer if it was a holiday). My father would've been the deceptively calm presence (the deception unmasked if you got him on a topic he was passionate about--such as the environment--at which point his fire would break through). He would've been the one making sure no one's glass was empty unless they wanted it to be. He would've been the one smiling down through those bushy white brows he refused to trim.

At the end, my mother, his wife of 49 years, was beside him. She held him, kissing his forehead. He drew three last shuddering breaths, and she saw the life leave his eyes. And she called out to her three adopted sons, and they came. 

I came the next day, too late to see him again, with a cartoon character cap in my bag that my own son wanted his grandfather to see, and a ring on my finger with my father's name inscribed within. And I walked through a house full of his traces: his reading glasses, his well-worn slippers. The symbols of a life--the routine symbols that all of us leave, the monuments to who we are, scattered everywhere.

This is not a memorial. In a week or two, when I can step back from my own feelings of loss and grief, I will write about him. For now, I just needed to write about losing him. It will likely be my last post for awhile. When I have a memorial to him written I may post it here. But I think I'll otherwise take November off from blog-writing to focus on other things.