Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dear Keith

Dear Keith,
You would have squirmed uncomfortably at all of the fuss and you certainly would have rolled your eyes at the use of this descriptor but your memorial service was beautiful. Hundreds of people who were your life-friends and supporters were at the Orinda Community Church to remember all of the things that made you uniquely you. The Rohrer family even flew in from Dubai for the service, winning the farthest-traveled award hands down. Jill, Liz, John and Jack each shared funny and touching remembrances of you, and each from very different perspectives – as a teacher, as a friend, as a coach and as an uncle. Displayed on the altar behind them was a floral arrangement including as a centerpiece the aquarium you always wanted but regrettably never got in real life – sorry about that one.

During the service I couldn’t help imagining you popping out from behind the altar at some opportune moment, flashing all in attendance one of your trademark upside down smiles, then tossing us a quick wave and running off with all of your friends, laughing at the elaborate rouse you had pulled on us over the past year. I would have happily laughed too if only that were the case but the sad reality of why we were all gathered together ruined that fantasy. As I looked down at the program in my hands with your beautiful face on the cover I was struck by how desperately you are missed, and I longed to rewind our lives to the time before cancer when you were healthy - a full life spread out before you just waiting to be explored and played out to its deserved fullness. 

When the service concluded we left the church to the music of Ringo Starr's ‘Octopus’ Garden’ played through the pipe organ. It’s a pretty safe bet that that this was the first time this particular musical selection had ever resonated through the sanctuary, but somehow it seemed fitting for one such as yourself who was always such a lover of sea creatures, particularly ones with tentacles.

In the reception hall following the service the walls were covered with “Dear Keith” notes, touching recollections written by your friends and family along with artwork and posters from your numerous fan clubs over the past year. I say all of this as if you weren’t there, but of course you clearly were there – your presence was tangible – and I can’t imagine anyone in attendance not sensing it.

I hope you liked the sushi...

* * *

So dear Keith, enjoy your new-found freedom and don’t let our sad expressions ever deflate your spirit. Fly to the fabulous places your vivid imagination created and swim alongside the undersea creatures who seem to share a special kinship with your soul. We are forever and indelibly marked by your special time with us. We are eternally linked - you will always be with us…and we will always be with you.

Love always,