Monday, June 18, 2012

Saying goodbye

I lost a friend today. He passed about 4:20 this afternoon, peacefully, at home just like he wanted. A Buddhist to the end.

Wow. That sounds so small compared to the size of my grief. Even the word "friend" sounds so small compared to the impact this man had on my life and on the lives of others. It sounds so small compared to the unending love and support he gave me and so many others. I wish there was a word for "more than a friend" that didn't lead straight to fuck buddy or boyfriend, because he was more than just a friend.

If you've read the comments here, you probably saw Rollo's name often. And in the past few months, not so often. And in the past few weeks, not at all.

That's because he was dying. Of course we're all dying, but he was dying when I met him almost 4 years ago. He started smoking when he was just a child, and although he quit when he was 40, it was too late for him. He died of a terrible, progressive lung disease. One that took his very breath, but never his dignity nor his love.

I would like to write about Rollo and what he meant to me, but I can't see my screen very well through the tears. Maybe another time. Maybe here, maybe not here.

He was an amazing writer himself though, and he told his story -- some of his story -- in the form of a memoir/novel he titled Lost and Found.
He used to ask me for advice about word usage or whether he should tell certain parts of his story. I gave the advice on word usage, and I always told him to write the truth, tell his story just as it happened. He didn't though. He worried that he'd lose readers because his story was a rough one. He did things .... he just didn't think people would continue to read if they knew the whole truth. So he told what he could bear to share, and what he thought his readers could accept and bear to read. Maybe he was right. Maybe the whole truth would have been too much. It's his story.

I think it would have been OK, but he was so sensitive to hurting other people. And he wanted so much to tell his story. And the parts he didn't tell .... well, he told them to me. And I'm sure he told them to other people he trusted to love him no matter what he'd done in the past.

I won't kid you: it's a rough read. He lived a childhood no child should endure, and yet it's a story I wish you'd all read. It's so compelling. And for those of us who knew the him, it's one more testament to his courage and strength that he overcame so many obstacles and became the man he did. Yes, he made mistakes along the way -- mistakes he was never forgiven for and never forgave himself for. But knowing his story ......

I wish you would read it. I wish you would start at the beginning and read his story to the end. The chapters are short and quick to read.

I'd like to write more about my friend Rollo, but not tonight. I can't do it tonight. (If you want, you can read what Autodidactpoet poet wrote about him here.)

Since I can't write, will you please go read Lost and Found? Please?

You may not believe it's possible as you read this story, but let me assure you of this: Rollo grew up to be one of the kindest, most rascally, most beloved men I've ever known. And he will be missed by countless people whose lives he touched with love and grace. He may not have been loved when he was born, but he was loved by many when he died.

I wish I could have heard you play this, Rollo. Maybe in another life.


  1. Ron and I had an instant bond and friendship. It was as if we both just knew how the other had transformed great pain into great love. We shared our stories and time together openly and deeply with great compassion and understanding. I always felt like I was receiving so much from him but he always made a point to stress how much he was getting from me,so Ron. I had tried to contact him during the last part of the week but wasn't able to reach him. When I read the email from Alice it literally took my breath away. I felt like someone had walked up and kicked me in the stomach. I am comforted knowing that Ron has joined the universe in the ultimate oneness and that his spirit will now and forever flow with me and through me as we share in that oneness.

  2. The last good, long talk I had with Ron was just before Christmas. I went to his house to bring Christmas cookies, candy, etc., for the family. He was on his oxygen, of course, and he said he was tired, but he got fired up with our conversation. We were talking politics and other hot-button issues. We were always on the same side of the issues, and we would both get worked up. I loved these conversations with Ron. I'm going to miss him very much.
    Thanks for writing about him.

  3. I loved him without ever meeting him. A very dear man who touched us all. I know we'll be reminded of him through the memories he shared in his stories. Heck, I know he'll still be in touch.

  4. Thanks for struggling with me in trying to find words. Everything I tried to write was just inadequate to what my heart wants to share. <3

  5. I'm so very sorry for your loss. I'll do my best to read a few chapters of his novel each day.