Loss in the Tribe

A Saturday night of edenic silence in the early dark of fall, the season’s first halting, feathery rain seeming to muffle every sound save for the second-by-second tick of the clock hand on the kitchen wall, reminding that this quietude, so reminiscent of the timeless heavens, is itself bound and must stake its own claim for whatever eternity it can muster. I can hear neither car nor cricket nor neighbor near or far; even the refrigerator is joined in the solemnity of this hour, its motor soundless and bowed. Dog to the left of me, cat to the right, our threesome forming an obtuse triangle punctuated only by the silent rising and falling of torsos, accepting without rancor the insistent, intrusive breath that moves the world. Amidst this still point suggesting the collapse of all time and bother, an email pings, bringing news that an old friend has passed, time and cause unknown, memorial upcoming, his motor, too, now soundless, bowed, and never to resume. Memories pour forth of his person, habits, peculiarities, passions, the life force that made him him against the vast nothingness into which he threw his being. Huddled here with my creaturely beloveds in the tender cocoon of night, I grieve another brother felled, calling his name and his face as the world carries on, unknowing.

John.

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Deep appreciation to the photographers! Unless otherwise stated, some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing.

Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos (except for the books) grace the rotating banner at top of page.
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Library books photo by Larry Rose, all rights reserved, contact: larry@rosefoto.com

Dog and cat photos by Andrew Hidas  https://flickr.com/photos/andrewhidas/

12 comments to Loss in the Tribe

  • Mary  says:

    So well written Andrew. I am sorry for your loss. I remember my 95 year old mother saying the hardest part of aging is losing all your friends.
    When I first started to read your blog I thought Kinzie was going to be the friend that you lost. But I was so glad she is part of the threesome and I am so happy she is ok. You reminded me today to enjoy my dog a little bit extra today…and friends too. Thank you for being my friend.

  • Al  says:

    Beautifully written, Andrew. What a miracle that we can see the beauty in such sadness.

  • Robert Spencer  says:

    Mary’s comment echoes my own thoughts. Three years ago my father, who was then 96 and in the last last stage of cancer, told my brothers and I that death in one way would be welcomed…”It’s hard to be living in a world where most of your memories are with those who’ve already died.” It was particularly hard on him when my mother passed away six years before (age 90) after 64 years of marriage.

  • Robert Spencer  says:

    Drew, it was beautifully written. Hopefully, it wasn’t someone I knew…

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      No, Robert, this was a friend from my earliest spec ed teaching days, a mentor figure who exemplified what was truly a radical approach to classroom management, combining strict behavior mod protocols with a profound humanism, him being the most gentle of souls. Wrote about that experience here, http://andrewhidas.com/as-you-did-to-the-least-of-them-notes-on-a-special-education/ … and John was right in front on the foto adorning the post, which is right where he belonged….

  • Karen  says:

    What a lovely tribute to a dear friend, Andrew. I’m sorry for your loss!

  • Andrew Hidas  says:

    Thank you most kindly, Mary, Al, Robert, Karen. Seems the passing of any friend or family tears away a slice of one’s history, so slice by slice, we become just a bit less than what we were, the losses accumulating, if one is lucky/unlucky enough to outlive all those who built that history with us. Nothing to be done about that but to live in gratitude for what was, and for what presents itself to us this very day, ripe for whatever renewal we can bring to it. Hard at 65 and 70, all the harder at 95, I am sure. But we go on, “boats against the current…”

  • joan voight (@shapelygrape)  says:

    Andrew, It’s been a rough summer for you for losing friends. We are so sorry. Take care of yourself and I guess we should all be glad for the memories of those who have left us behind. But it’s still hard….
    Thanks for the beautiful words.

  • Kevin Feldman  says:

    Deeply appreciate your post Drew – knowing John in the same context as yourself (part of the “tribe” as it were – I was also saddened and moved to learn of his passing. I can sure appreciate exactly what Robert noted with his father’s musing, having had very similar conversations with my mom in her early 90’s reflecting on the double edged sword of living a long life, long enough to grieve the loss of all of your closet friends… can certainly relate to Mary and Al’s comments too, attempting to be conscious and grateful for all of the little gifts that make up my various daily routines … Reflecting on what a delightfully outlandish fellow John was, his love of cultural oddities (from spooky movies, to old westerns, to magic, goofy kitsch of all kind and old movie memorabilia etc) – his simple ability to take delight in the mundane and reflect it back through a prism of humor and curiosity… John was a vitally important mentor to me in my career as well (Special Ed/Gen Ed etc), a model of leading by example coupled with reflection, finding some lesson in whatever took place (and always finding some humor or silver lining in the most trying of circumstances)… John’s life made a difference in this often-troubled world… he will be fondly remembered by all who knew him…

  • Lisa  says:

    So sorry for your loss. Friends are so important in life and each loss is so painful but your special memories always live on.

  • Jay Helman  says:

    Oh, my. I know that John was an integral and influential friend during that segment of your life. I’m sorry to hear of his passing, and appreciative of your beautiful reflection.

  • Andrew Hidas  says:

    Thank you Jay, Lisa, Joan, and Kevin, the man who was there with John in the middle of those halcyon days in the special ed movement, our little corner of it in Riverside, things busting out all over, and the privilege we had, really, to grapple with and absorb the notion that these kids were human beings, fully deserving of our best, sometimes flawed, but always well-intended efforts to give them a life with all the possible happiness and meaning they could extract from it. If it seemed revolutionary at the time, it’s because it was, given the historical treatment of this population in the past. John was truly in the vanguard of that approach, his voice gentle but insistent, and always from the heart. We can but try to leave behind a life that contributed so much to bettering the world.

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