This year I lost two dear friends, not from AIDS but cancer. Eric Larsen, with a big smile on his face, walked with me to high school in Wausau; I was in his wedding, and after he and Sevim moved to Sacramento, we saw each other regularly.   I took a sabbatical in 1984 and lived with Doug Ballard and his partner Tony Masters in their elegant camelback double house off Magazine Street in New Orleans for three weeks. They introduced me to the world of antiques with their shop of fine English country furniture, pottery and objects.  After each visit over the years I’ve come back with something from it; the most recent purchase was a 3,000 year old clay Chinese horseman. In June I went to New Orleans for the Saints and Sinners Festival of mostly gay writers and spent two hours with Doug in a well-lit nursing home. He died a few weeks later.   I lost Tony earlier in the year when he died from AIDS complications.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing.”  Death is part of that profound passion, and for some of us it came earlier than expected. All of us either incorporate our feelings about death into our lives or run fast to avoid the inevitable that statistics suggest hasn’t proven successful.


There are also lesser losses that can be as profound, like the loss of a friendship because one of us fucked it up.  Or the loss of a future when it’s clear your relationship isn’t going where you wanted it to go.  But again, if those losses aren’t incorporated into our sense of self it becomes baggage, and if anyone has had to transfer terminals at a major airport with a heavy suitcase, you know that ain’t fun.

For more elucidation I turn to those who are wise. John Green in The Fault of the Stars said, “Grief does not change you, it reveals you”.  And Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

In the end, to remain sane  loss is a mystery we must accept.


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One Response to loss

  1. David G. Hallman July 6, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    Thanks for your post Chuck. Very timely – a 34-year-old friend died last week of head and neck cancer. Cremation was today. Not sure I can subscribe 100% with Dr. Seuss’ perspective, especially when the “it’s over” came far too early. David

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