When you know you can’t see your friend again

— there is a grim loneliness in a coffee shop on a November afternoon:  two doing crossword puzzles, their wheeled-walkers stationed by their table;  a sullen girl in the corner with headphones, screen casting up a tin glare on her glasses;  a moustachioed man reading a paper—ads ripe with recrimination, news always old—and all of us in these grey sweaters with our empty cups waiting for the bright release of night.

When you know you can’t see your friend again — there is a bottomless loneliness in everything beautiful:  a low swollen sun shimmering a path on the sea to the cones of your eyes;  raindrops caught and clinging to a bare alder branch, then diamonding light connie&jeffas they fall;  the sounds of piano and flute silvering soft percussive arpeggios—and you see her hands;  and her smile, a smile of greeting, always in greeting—and laughter, especially laughter.

When you know you can’t see your friend again — there is a crushing loneliness in things that remain:  in a river running through a city, a path by the river, shoes waiting by the door;  in a blue tarp staked to the side of a green hill, a secreted bottle of wine, days of song, emancipating song;  in prairie grass, valiant grass and verdant, bent by storms, too many storms, bent by time, too short the time;  and in wind passing over a fallen flower, such a flower.

Connie, you left us far too soon. But you left us rich in knowing the heart you always left exposed.

Jeff, and all the family, we ache for you.


  1. Steve, your words made me think of past times and friends and family that have passed,, and the tears came, ( and tears can be soothing ) .. I didn,t know Connie very well , but I think I knew her well enough to say to all her friends , and especially Jeff ,, ” She was a wonderful woman , she had a wonderful life ” Phil Meredith

  2. While I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Connie as well as many others, I was able to share a few memories with her. She was a beautiful being, inside and out. She was the person in the room that never allowed you to feel the outcast. A welcoming smile and easy conversation. She will be fondly remembered. To all of her family and friends my heartfelt condolences.

  3. Stephen, I don’t know this dear friend of yours, but your aching words, the detailed descriptions of scenes – describe how important she was to you and to others. My condolences for this loss.

  4. Thank you Stephen – very poignant, moving reflection.
    Connie was a ‘mensch’ – and, so vibrant ! so compassionate! so smart!
    Those, whose lives she touched, we could not help but love her.
    The realization of her absence tears a huge hole through our hearts.

  5. So moving, Steve – People like Connie leave holes in our lives when they leave us, holes that can’t be filled. But somehow we learn to live around them, helped by the good memories these persons have given us.

  6. Hi Stephen, I grieve your loss, so deeply, sincerely, with love expressed. I grieve my own. Let us keep dear Jeffy close, such a team they were. Of course with you in Victoria, Jeff in Edmonton and me in Berlin at present, “keeping him close” may require some inventive action! Let us keep in touch – I am back in Edmonton January 10. Best, Roger.

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