He’s Gone

“The remote can be more familiar to us than the near.” – Marcel Proust

My dad died in 1999 after a long illness. The last couple of years of his life were pretty miserable. My brother and I hadn’t yet rented the rehearsal studio we use for our band so we got together once a week over bagels in midtown to commiserate over the inevitable impending death of the man who was (and remains) our great mentor.

After my died died a funny thing happened. The last few years of dialysis, amputations and the descent into oblivion faded away and the memories flooded back of the man’s long drives to the beach, fresh perked coffee on Christmas morning and the ferocious sense of humor that laughed in the face of such trivia as time and death.

My son went away to college last year. I alternated between excitement and dread in the months leading up to the day we drove together to DC and came back without him.

After he’d gone a funny thing happened. The last few years of high school and preparations for college faded and memories of an earlier time started bubbling to the surface with more familiarity than more recent ones. His childhood, and my early days fatherhood, the days of both of us learning, together, about the beauty and wonder of life, reverberated with surprising freshness.

“Now he’s gone, now he’s gone, Lord he’s gone, he’s gone.
Like a steam locomotive, rolling down the track
He’s gone, he’s gone and, nothing’s gonna bring him back…He’s gone.” – Robert Hunter

Time passes and things change. Childhood and even old age go away. But people don’t. He’s not gone. And neither is he. And they never will be.

“Cat on a tin roof
Dogs in a pile
Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile.” 
– Robert Hunter

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