Filling loss

At the temple there is a poem called “Loss” carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read loss, only feel it.

Arthur Golden, from “Memoirs of a Geisha”


I want to scream.

I want to be angry.

In a sense, I am screaming inside, which does nothing to alleviate the overwhelming grief.

And then I remember that this -thing- did not happen to -me-.

It happened far from me, to a man with his own family, loved ones who are now living in a world bereft of his smile, his laugh, his light.

I focus on the injustice – the imbalance that set this loss in motion, and of course, I am angry.

But I cannot imagine the extent of grief of those closest to him.

Or perhaps I can, yet I understand that it is not a grief I am privy to.

So I can only do as he would do.

He would make a lesson of his troubles, and put a positive light on it.

What that is, only time can tell.

A colleague said that what we can do to honor him is to be there for others. On that, I wholeheartedly agree. I’m not much of a cook–but if a friend needed me to make a meal, I’d do it. If someone needs an ear, I’m here. If it is within my power to help carry a burden, then I will – because this world needs more of the kind of person Dana was, and less of the harshness that can befall those who focus on justice or chaos.

It does nothing to allay the sadness, the cold and weary feeling that has settled on my heart. But in dark times, we must be light. We must be love. For ourselves, for others. For people who greeted us and treated us like family, and for people who don’t know us at all.

In this way we can be connected.

I think Dana would want that more than anything.

I am angry. And I am sad.

But I will love, not hate. And I am ever beyond grateful that I had him and his wonderful family in my life. If I could achieve even a modicum of the grace he brought into this world just by virtue of being him, I would be a lucky man.


photo credit: Candles via photopin (license)

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1 Comment

  • I don’t know where to begin.

    I first met Dana years before I had the chance of becoming his friend. He made me a matte latte. And as we chatted I was filled with the joy of meeting a kindred spirit.

    When I did settle into town, I would spend what seemed to be hours at Stardoughs, sipping my latte, journaling, and chatting with Dana in between the flow of people. I had just moved from Hawi, a tiny town comparable to Blue Lake on the Big Island of Hawaii. We delighted in the fact that he had grown up there, at least for some of his youth. He was always so kind. To everyone. We would talk about light things, heavy things, real things, but through it all, he genuinely had a sense that all was well with the world. Even through the tears of writing this, I know he is smiling at all the love that has emerged from our stories.

    Over time we grew closer. I was broke and he knew it. I would gather up my change for my new favorite caramel latte, and he would just push it back with a wink and a smile and continue with whatever he was doing.

    I remember asking him one day what he had done the previous day, and he responded by saying he went to his nephew’s preschool graduation ( I could be wrong about the family member). Later I found out it was in the bay area. He drove back and forth in one day just to be there for his special day.

    When I met my husband in Blue Lake, Dana knew him, and would talk to both of us about each other in a sweet and knowing way of what existed between us. In time, my partner and I travelled to India, and before we went, he would make comments under his breath about me and my partner getting married. He would laugh and say we were going to get married and have a baby. “why not?” he would say. He just wanted everyone to love each other.

    When we did get back from India, I was pregnant and we were engaged 🙂 ha. He knew before anyone else in town. And he kept the secret.

    There are so many sweet memories of Dana. Little passing moments of him picking a virtue of the day, or turning the pizza in the brick oven, or making his coffee drinks with love. There are moments of him speaking of the love and pride of his children, then grandchildren. The moments of him running out of the coffee shop to give the bus driver money for his grandmother, Jean. I keep hearing him laugh and feeling his big bear squeeze. It was impossible to feel down when embraced by his love.

    The last time I saw Dana was at the Bahai feast after the fast. I don’t know the name as I am not follower, but Dana asked my parter to play music for the feast the past three years. Each year it was such a pleasure to see Dana in a different and humble light. He told us he would try to get us a house back in Blue Lake. ( We moved to Eureka about a year prior). The irony of it all is a little twisted. M partner and I just had our wedding which Dana was so looking forward to about a week after his incident. And just after, we found a place in Blue Lake. I am trying not to focus on the sadness, but Blue Lake will never be the same without such a warm and welcoming human and soul.

    From the hairs on my head to the tips of my toes, I will miss you. And I thank you, for making a place, whatever place , feel like home. I hope to carry your joy within me always, and to share it with friends and strangers alike.

    Part of me doesn’t want to stop writing, because I don’t want to say goodbye.

    ” And in the end, the love you the is equal to the love you make. “- The Beatles

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