For David

h1 October 24th, 2006 by jules

“Think of things that disappear/Think of what you love best/What brings tears into your eyes/Something that said adios to you/before you knew what it meant/or how long it was for . . .” — Naomi Shihab Nye

Let me just say up front: Excuse this savagely personal post. I try to stay professional and keep on the topic of book reviews only, but . . .

I have this obscenely overactive work ethic. For the purposes of this blog, that translates into me thinking that I need to post something at least every other day, though Eisha and I never committed to a particular number of posts at particular intervals. But I haven’t posted in a few days and feel fairly worthless towards doing anything productive this week in terms of reading and writing . . . other than this post.

My husband and I got word this past weekend that a dear friend of ours passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. He was only 38 years old. And I run the risk of appearing way too hokey/cheesy/corny/fill-in-the-word-here-yourself-depending-on-your-age, but I have to write briefly about him. Because I’m still here, I can say something, I can do my small part in helping to remember David. And tell you that the world is dimmer without his laugh that was boisterous and rascally and warm-hearted all at once (you could tell David a sick, warped joke, and he’d appreciate it. When I see him laughing in my mind’s eye, I almost see a literal twinkle in his eye). And because today is his birthday.

David was a public librarian, and he was a good one, though he had some struggles getting his feet firmly planted in the field. And that’s not because he wasn’t sharp as hell, ’cause he was. It’s because, if you are an Information Science student interested in non-traditional librarianship, it’s not as easy to get the good, interesting jobs as postsecondary programs in library and information science will make it seem. That might sound bitter, but, well, it’s true, and lots of other former information science students all over the country will tell you that. And I say that for (as in, in honor of) David.

David also was working on a task force for gays and lesbians in the library system in Broward County, Florida. He helped assemble bibliographies and plan programs for the month of October, which is Gay and Lesbian History Month. May his important work there be carried on by others.

I don’t need well-meaning expressions of sympathy from anyone; this post is not about me. It’s just to record, to throw out into cyberspace — on the day of David’s birth — in this blog, where I find myself almost daily recording heavy (and sometimes not-so-heavy) thoughts about life via the extraordinary and seductive and wonderful literature for children and adults out there in the world, that this David-shaped hole in the world because of his untimely death is wrong and heart-breaking for many people (and because, in times like this, said literature can give us much-needed buttressing). But we can celebrate him, though we will miss him and “{w}hile no one (O God) through the years will say/The simplest, common word in just your way” (C.S. Lewis).

Though I am a woman of little faith, here are two things I hope are very true: “All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, And to die is different from what any one supposes, and luckier” (Walt Whitman). And “{t}here is no death. Only a change of worlds” (Chief Seattle). I do know, to paraphrase Rilke, that nothing that is real can pass away.

And this is what I hope for David. In the words of Willa Cather . . .

I sat down in the middle of the garden, where snakes could scarcely approach unseen, and leaned my back against a warm yellow pumpkin. There were some ground-cherry bushes growing along the furrows, full of fruit. I turned back the papery triangular sheaths that protected the berries and ate a few. All about me giant grasshoppers, twice as big as any I had ever seen, were doing acrobatic feats among the dried vines. The gophers scurried up and down the ploughed ground. There in the sheltered draw-bottom the wind did not blow very hard, but I could hear it singing its humming tune up on the level, and I could see the tall grasses wave. The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers.

Queer little red bugs came out and moved in slow squadrons around me. Their backs were polished vermilion, with black spots. I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun or air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.

Rest in peace, David, entirely happy.

4 comments to “For David”

  1. Simply beautiful.

  2. Nothing hokey or corny. Beautiful. And thank you for sharing the words, especially Willa Cather’s. I didn’t know this passage. I will be using it to comfort others. Thank you.

  3. Perfect. One of the important reasons for literature.

    Thank you.

  4. Hello Julie.
    Blake says that “we are put on Earth a little space that we may learn to bear the beams of love.” You chose a lovely way to celebrate your friends life – thanks for sharing

    The rest of this message, I wish you would not leave open publicly. I’m

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