You are all smart readers and I have a feeling that you already know, by the title of this post, what I’m about to tell you.
And there’s just no easy way to say it, no prelude to soften the blow.
Bob died on Saturday evening.
I knew he was weak and frail but I honestly never expected his decline to be so rapid. I saw him last Wednesday and he was talkative and upbeat and I thought we had time. Isn’t that what we always think? That there is time? Time to say the things we want to say and see the people we want to see. Time for another conversation, another joke, another story, another smile. Well, time ran out on Saturday.
I have no regrets, I did tell Bob everything I wanted to tell him and I know that he knew how I felt about him. I still want more time, though, and the reality of knowing I will never talk to him again is harsh and painful.
I’m not alone in this, of course. Dale is by my side and his grief is palpable. We talked a lot over the weekend about the special bond Dale had with Bob and the other members of the band – as partners, colleagues, friends and musicians. They have had a remarkable number of years together and the loss for all of them is incredibly deep. Our children are devastated as Bob has been a part of their lives since, well, their earliest memories. There is also a grieving widow and son to uplift and support, all of which is to say that I feel like my feelings aren’t the most important feelings at this time. Is my grief deep and real? Absolutely. But can I set it aside and support and love those around me who are also grieving and missing Bob? Yes.
This is where the bit I wrote about grace kicks in, I suppose. The grace of knowing that Bob is at peace, the grace of knowing that he didn’t suffer a prolonged and painful death, the grace of calling Tina and reaching out to help her, of holding Dale’s hand and being strong for him so that he doesn’t have to be strong for me.
And, if we’re going to talk about grace then we have to also talk about joy. Even in the deep despair that I feel right now there is joy. Joy in knowing that Bob was completely certain about an afterlife. Joy in knowing that he will never ever be forgotten. Certainly not by his family and friends and those who knew him best. But also not by the thousands of young people he taught as a music teacher. And not by the thousands upon thousands of people who saw him perform, not just with Dale and the Duds but with his many other musical groups. Joy in remembering all of the times he entertained us because he was, at heart, an entertainer.
So. Here we are again, contemplating joy and grace. I know, ultimately, those are the words that will shine through for me and everyone who loved Bob, even though right now we are all completely heartbroken.