Today, my friend Jesse lost his father.
I have walked this road, though not exactly in this form, and I grieve with Jesse tonight at the loss of his dad, and for all the people who knew Frank.
Frank was retired from the Navy and his passionate hobby was studying railroads. I hadn’t spent much time with him over the years, despite knowing Jesse since he (Jesse) was a high schooler. He and Jesse’s mom were always very hospitable and friendly, and I have good memories of heading to their house for one of Jesse’s awesome house-recitals. (The boy can play piano, just sayin’.)
Over Christmas this year, Jesse was spending time at our house and Frank stopped by several times just to hang out with “his boy.” For the first time, I really got a chance to hear Frank tell stories about his Navy days — those were great stories! — and about the history of railroads in South Carolina. I wish I’d had time to hear more; Frank was faster than Wikipedia will ever be and far more interesting as he unfolded tales of the little Due West to Donalds Railroad with its odd-gauge track (for example). He even had a good country theory for how the little town of Due West got its name, including an old man in Donalds, a faded map of 1700s “indian territory,” and some military-grade compass skills.
Death is not a welcome visitor in this world, and it was never meant to clip human existence. But while we wait for the redemption of the body, at least we can die well.
I’m sorry, Jesse. We love you.
You never stop missing your parents once they’re gone. You just realize how much more you could have learned, and long for the reunion in Aslan’s Country.