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Lessons On Dying

dale and bob for carole knits

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.

band dinner for carole knits


This Post Has 28 Comments

  1. Wonderful eulogy at a very very sad time. I disagree about your feelings not being the most important at this time…they are. They bring you into your family and your family of friends. They are what you bring to participate in the grief and the mourning for a fine man. Being strong doesn’t mean putting your feelings about all this second.

    That is a fine post.

  2. Carole, so sorry to hear of Bob’s passing. The of close friends can leave a terrible void in our lives that are best filled by the memories of lives well lived. Dale and you were blessed to have him in your lives.

  3. Carole, I am so sorry for your (and Dale’s) loss. What a wonderful tribute you’ve written here, and I hope the happy memories of your times with Bob are a comfort to all who mourn his passing. It sounds as though he will be missed by many.

  4. So, so very sorry for your loss and your sorrow, along with your wonderful group of friends to whom Bob meant so much. Sending you love, peace, and hugs. Your feeling are upmost importance at this time. Share them with your group of friends, keep them in your grieving heart, as a reminder of your love for Bob. You will all never forget him and I hope you celebrate with joy is life and how much you all meant to him.

  5. Carole I am very sorry to hear of your dear friend Bob’s passing. You and your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

  6. I’m so very sorry for this profoundly sad loss. It speaks volumes about Bob that he is so loved and missed by so many people. I hope that the passing of time will ease the deep grief, and you can all share your memories of him with happiness, joy, and love. You, Dale, your family, Tina, and Bob’s family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  7. My heart hurts for all of you. We always think there is more time. I guess that’s the mystery of life. Sometimes having to be strong for somebody else is what helps you get through things like this. May you and Dale find peace in the upcoming days.

  8. I’m so sorry for your loss and I know your readers all felt that we knew Bob just a little bit–we grieve with you. Virtual hugs–

  9. Yes, what a beautiful eulogy for Bob. I am grieving for Bob and his family, for all the people that love him. Loss is so difficult to deal with. Stay strong, but know that you can express your grief too, to the people that love you. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us.

  10. So very sorry for you all. Loss is always painful, but thankfully grace is what enables us to feel joy again. I’m glad that Tina and her son will have so many caring friends to surround her not only through these next few days, but the hard weeks and months that follow.


  11. Carole, what a beautiful tribute you’ve written to honor and remember a most important friend. I’m so very sorry for this loss — the loss of a good friend and steady band mate; the loss of a husband and father; the loss of a bright, shining star here on Earth. Please take care of yourself as you’re caring for others. You will all be close in my heart. Sending love. XOXO

  12. Having suffered the loss of some significant people in my life over the last couple of years, I say this from the heart, (and through some tears), that I am so very sorry for your loss… While it is true that time softens the blow, I’m not convinced that healing is ever truly complete. Life goes on, as it must, but the void created by the loss of some people remains. We celebrate their lives, feel blessed for having had them touch our lives, and hold our memories of them close to our hearts. Joy and grace indeed, my friend.

  13. Carole and Dale, I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope memories of better times with your beloved friend get you through the dark days ahead.

  14. Hi Carole, Sympathies to you and Dale over the loss of your dear friend. Thank you for writing about the dying process and about death in both happy and sad ways. Death is truly part of life, but not always a topic that many have the courage to tackle and discuss.

  15. Another beautifully written post, Carole. I wish you didn’t have to write it. Honestly, I think that even if you knew the exact minute of death in advance, you would still be shocked and left wanting more…

    I’m so sorry for you, for Dale, for your kids, for Bob’s family, for the whole “family.” I know the sadness and joy will be mingling for a while. Peace.

  16. Oh, Carole, I am heartsick for all of you. I’m just catching up on last week’s postings on your blog, and seeing you with Bob took my breath away. I am so saddened to learn today that he died this weekend. I wish I cold be there to catch your tears. “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” (Kahlil Gibran)
    Sending you hugs…wishing you peace…today and always.

  17. Carole and Dale,

    So sorry for your loss. My sympathies also to the rest of the band and Bob’s family.

  18. My condolences to you and all of your’s in this time of loss and sorrow. I wish you strength to help yourself and everyone else with this.

  19. What a lovely post, Carole, a touching and fitting tribute to a dear friend and a life well lived.

    I am sorry for this terrible loss.

  20. I know it helps you to write … and I know it will bring joy and peace to Tina to read these words. I am so very sorry for your loss. Keep y’all close in my heart and my prayers. xo.

  21. Oh, Carole, I am so sorry to have missed reading this yesterday. Your reflections and the memories you shared are full of grac. How fortunate Bob and Rita are to have close friends like you and Dake.

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