When a friend dies

My friend Chris Albee will be gone from this life four months the 20th of this month; the tears are streaming down my face right now as I write. I am only one of a number of people whose lives were — and I do not use this word lightly — blessed by his presence. He died from t-cell lymphoma.

Some times at night, during the day, it doesn’t matter, the knowledge he has died will strike hard, my fists will clench and I want punch death square in the face with savage fury — again and again and again. Chris was only 49! He had a wonderful wife and family, he had a nine year old son!

It is so hard to find people in life you know you are safe being yourself with. I was always safe with Chris and he would be the first to tell you he was safe being himself with me.

I cannot change the reality of his loss. What I can do is tell you this. Tell the people you love that you love them. Tell them. Tell your children, tell your parents, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins; tell your friends, tell the person you are in a relationship with. Say it! Tell them. And please, remember to hug those you love, and let them hug you back. Be kind, be kind, be kind. And if you are in possession of behavior patterns that wound yourself and others, do your best to get free of them. There is little doubt they may have kept you safe at one time, but maybe not so much now.

If there is a heaven, Chris is there. I have no doubt of it because if there is a heaven, he damn well deserves to be there.

I love you, Chris.


For Kim & Joshua


For the lost too soon

I send this dream on the wings of angels

On notes clear and heartbeats strong touching

The hearts of distant ones tears of loss

Can we not rescue return the lost too soon


This heart of mine runs shallow to deep

But it runs unflinching true through every depth

Not once shying from the pain its caused

Nor the joy its brought too few too few


This song of mine meant for the voices in heaven

Knows humble notes and proud ones too

Knows happiness and the gut kick of pain

Knows the chorus of unblinking love loyal


This dream of mine I send on the wings of angels

On notes clear and heartbeats strong touching

The hearts of distant ones tears of loss

Can we not rescue return the lost too soon


In loving memory of DJR


The loss we feel when a loved one dies reminds us they are not gone. Yes, it is true, they are gone physically, but it is equally true that we would not feel their loss in the first place were they not still present, still alive and well in our hearts and souls.

I do believe this. And while there may be those who see this belief as a form of denial or avoidance, I respectfully and firmly wave off both interpretations. I know me well and I know I would not be alive today were denial or avoidance leading voices in the person that is me.

As I ponder the experience of loss, watch others go through it, absorb its penetrating realities, I am humbled and grateful that we can feel it when it happens. While not an altogether pleasant experience by any means, it does have its tender moments. There is a just and poignant intimacy in the loss experience. An intimacy we deserve when a loved one dies because it reminds us that person’s presence is still alive and well within us.

I know what I wanted to say here; although I am not sure I’ve said it very well. I went to a memorial service for my friend Frank today. I love him very much. I am quite sure his presence in my heart and soul is as forever as I am.

Dedicated to Jane Pierce