Dear Ray

Dear Ray,

First off, I know you are not reading this. I think we would both agree that this time we have on Earth is one shot only and there’s not much after that. I guess I am writing this more for others to read. But it feels good to pretend. You can’t fault me for that.

We had your celebration of life last night. It was a blast. First off, open bar. That was unexpected and completely awesome. Thanks for the Guinness! And the second. And so on.

I came right at 6:00pm because didn’t want to miss a thing.  When I showed up, the place was seemingly full already. There were a cluster of people at the bottom of the stairs. Keri was there handing out the programs. An impromptu welcome line had formed around Cindy, Keegan and Zoe.

People continued to pour in. Friends from old COSI, friends from new COSI, work friends, neighbors, family… so many people. You were very popular.

We all drank. We all lamented at how bravely you fought and how quickly you left. We laughed. We told stories. Just like you wanted.

You would be happy to know that at one point in the night, I was telling a story and Shorty found it funny enough to guffaw a mouthful of beer on my shirt. 

Keri did a great job at helping to produce the event. She held it together where I would have fallen apart.

And then the bag pipe player began upstairs. Not quietly because that’s not how those things work. He came down the stairs and I could not help but cry. It was perfect.  He came through the room and into the small stage where the microphone was set up. He was pretty damn tall. I assume you paid extra for that.

Keri started off the speeches.  Joe followed up and made us all very introspective. Ron spoke of your love for the Marx brothers. Adelaide did not realize how funny her story about you fixing her luggage carrier was going to be. Zoe was overcome with emotion, but came back later to tell us about how you helped her to overcome her fears. Keegan spoke well and is his father’s son.  Others came up to tell their stories. I told the food poisoning one. They were funny. They were poignant. We laughed and we cried. We all really miss you.

Then at the end, the bag pipe player played you out.  He played Hector the Hero, just like you wanted.

And I know it sounds cheesy. But as he walked off through the room, the people moved out of the way. And then up the stairs. The music faded. And it was as if I could finally let go. Another chance to say goodbye. This time with happiness. Surround by the many many people whose lives were changed by you.

And now I realize that I’m not writing this for others. I’m writing it for me.

Thanks, Ray.

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