I met Ed when I first started doing community theatre here, back in 1983. He was on the board of directors of the theatre company. He directed. He sat on committees. He built sets. In short, he was one of those absolutely invaluable people that are the lifeblood of community theatre.
Ed was also opinionated, occasionally verbose, sometimes overbearing. Many of the younger members of the company didn’t like him, and said some hurtful things to him. But I liked Ed; underneath the somewhat formal veneer of a retired military man, there lay a heart of utter gold. And now he’s gone.
Today I got word that John had passed away, after a brief illness. I knew John mostly through his partner, Victor; both staunch supporters of the performing arts in DC. Victor is the showman of the pair – the social lion, the one who stands up front and gives the speeches. John was the sweet quiet. I finally had a chance to talk with him at length at a function about a year ago; I asked him how he met Victor, and he told me the story, his eyes shining softly. He was a good and gentle man, and now he’s gone.
So I’ll be attending two services in the next few weeks. Both will be difficult. But I take comfort in the story my brother told, when he eulogized my father back in 2000. I hope it helps any of you who have experienced a loss, recent or not:
I am standing on the seashore. A ship at my side spreads its white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
The ship is an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch it sail away, until at length it hangs like a speck of white cloud where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says, "There, it’s gone".
Gone from my sight, that is all.
The ship is still just as large in mast and hull and spar as it was when it left my side, and just as able to bear its load of living weight to the place of destination.
The diminished size is in me, not in the ship; and just at that moment when someone at my side said, "There, it's gone," there are many other eyes watching it approach from over the horizon, and other voices to take the glad shout:
"There - it's coming."