Saturday, August 23, 2008

No Longer In Service

No Longer in Service

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No matter how many times I dial the phone,
I missed my last chance to hug you hello
Or even, alas, to say goodbye.

My memories fade so fast
Mnemosyne has lifted them from me
So I do not need to bear them as a burden
Yet one by one, if I sit and think upon your face
The memories come back.

Of you with Jodi’s children
The trips with the kids in the van
Roving far and near
How your voice would squeak or rise or settle
Making clear the severity of what you faced
So one understood it just wasn’t something in your head
Your body was off-kilter
You needed help
And you got it
And you wanted others to get help too
And to realize what so many people face
Day in and day out
Not just any people
My friend.

Your delicate light hair, thinning at such a young age
Your nose, which I was always tempted to honk
Though I restrained myself
I was friendly enough, but…
I never honked your nose
I never said how much I loved your friendship near often enough
I was afraid to

You have my apologies
For I was inconsiderate
I never called you back about that project idea we had
Where I would dream up some brand-new technology
And you would use your writing skills to document it
And we’d put it on the web
And we’d patent it
And get rich
And be happy

Hey, Terry.
I have to ask.
Why didn’t you call me up?
I gave you my number too, you know
Any time, I said – day or night
I meant it.
I’d have loved a call from you
To hear from you
To listen to what you needed
To be your friend

Don’t you remember the June two-years’-past?
I walked the Overnight
From dusk til dawn I walked
Feeling my body pumping
Considering my own survival
For walking ten miles will tax a man’s body
At the age of 41

It was my own survival of the fittest
To get myself in shape
To push my limits
To lose some pounds
To get out of the apartment
To live a little more
And a little better

I marched for I had lost a friend from Carnegie Mellon long ago
Long before you made your own fatal choice.
Do you remember Molly?
The Southern Belle at the Beaux Arts Ball
Died just as the last dancers had crept to bed.
So very close to dawn.

I walked the Overnight so I might not ever have to know another Molly
To hear of the suicide of someone I loved
Or at least, had a crush on
Or even liked a lot

That was all part of what was driving me
When I marched off to the Danube banks in Croatia
And marched adventurously the length of Hadrian’s Wall
All to get in shape to walk that Overnight
For hope.

When all the walking was done
And I got to rest my blistered feet
It was a miracle and a joy
A fair amount of money raised for a good cause
To help save people like you

Apparently it was insufficient
For not that long ago
I had this tear-filled call from Jodi
She loved you like a sister.
Yet love was not enough
Ah, well.

So, Terry, you know what this means,
Don’t you?
You realize what you’ve started now?
It’s true.
It’s also pretty simple.
It means:
We’ve got more walking to do.

Today’s walking is going to be fun.
Blue skies.
A sun so brilliant it shames any diamond sold
A walk with perky Jodi and her bubbly kids
At the County Fair in San Mateo
Terry, seriously -- you’d love it!

While you may now be no longer in service
I vowed to live my life that way
And so I must rededicate myself to serve
Those in need.
And do the best that I can.
And keep walking.

Meanwhile, give my best to Molly
I remember you both fondly and well
I hope you have both found
A finer, grander, peaceful place

In memory of Terry Young.

If you wish to help honor Terry, and to help all the others of the world in similar crises, please support me in the Out of the Darkness community walk, September 27, 2008.


  1. Anonymous6:48 AM

    Peter? I read your tribute to Terry Young just a few days ago. I'm not "on a limb" guessing that's 100% inspired, am I?

    What's unclear to me is did someone take her own life (my first guess).

    It's not my business, but perhaps a reader (me) comment to a writer (you).

    I browsed your page further and upon seeing your first YouTube video ... didn't see it.

    Whatever -- work calls from

    Alan, owner/operator

  2. It was indeed inspired, in the literal sense of inhaling when I heard the news. Then the long exhale, the expiration, when I accepted it.


    To breathe in. Breathe out.

    It is all true. Poetry can be factual. Haiku is, when properly composed. This is more prosaic.

    I'll check later today to see where the YouTube video went also.