As in life, death’s tasks appear unending, a long scroll seeming to loop back on itself yet eventually winding down to nothing.
As I tackle the many items on the checklist, ticking off each action, trivial or major, a glimmer of finality peeks through, like pinholes of light in a player piano’s roll. Yes, the list is long. Perhaps months or years of effort lie ahead, yet there is an end–somewhere–even should it be completed only with my own distant ending.
I scan photos and digitize his voice, but with each new capture the realization grows that the trough of those memories will be exhausted. There will be no new pictures of his time-worn face, no new recordings of his baritone narratives sharing wit and history, joys and regrets, gravitas and laughter.
Last night I completed the task of sending e-mail to everyone in his contact list. There is no one left to write, no new friends incubating new stories, inspiring new directions, instilling new confidence in those who question their direction.
The scroll of my check list continues to wind with many difficult and painful jobs still to do, yet they slowly, inexorably diminish as the calendar recedes from the date of his death.
There will be fresh reminiscences as people respond, fresh discoveries in his collection of manuscripts and letters. For these I am thankful, yet I am constantly reminded that no matter how delightful or painful these discoveries may be, they are all items of the past, not of the future.
Patrick’s legacy lies in the lives he touched, the music he brought to life, the people he loved. These qualities of his will persist in time, but these qualities are not the man himself. That man is no more, a collection of dust resting atop the bones of his true love.
We cannot preserve the man, nor can we even completely or perfectly preserve his memory.
Hopefully, however, we can preserve the things he deemed important: love, music, art, nature, humor, and life. It’s time I got started.
With love to all,