It has been two full weeks since my last blog post. (Thankfully I've lost two pounds in those two weeks—I barely did it, and I'm still a pound behind my goal of a pound a week, but hopefully I'll catch up soon. More on how I lost the two pounds in my next post.) I guess the reason I haven't posted in two weeks is because I just wasn't sure whether I should go ahead with this thing or not. After asking a few of my closest friends for their opinion on the blog, I suddenly became aware that putting all of this personal information about myself on the internet could easily invite advice, criticism, or—even worse—unadulterated judgment from others. So I paused for a bit to consider the consequences. And after doing that for two weeks, I'm still not sure if documenting my weight loss on the internet is a good idea or not. But something happened today that changed my mind . . . today I lost a friend.
My friend Tim Van Hooser died of a sudden heart attack early this afternoon. He was only 52—from my point of view, that's too young to die. I worked with Tim at St. Andrews College in Laurinburg, North Carolina, for two years, and I can honestly say that I felt like he was a friend the minute I met him. When one of my former students found out that Tim died this afternoon, she immediately said that she loved him, and I replied by adding that we all loved him. But saying that you love someone, that everyone loved someone, doesn't really capture a person's essence, so let me try to do that with a story about my first encounter with Tim.
I met Tim about three years ago. He lived in Maxton, North Carolina, which is a small rural town not far from the just slightly bigger town of Laurinburg, where St. Andrews is located. Because Maxton is surrounded by acres of cotton and tobacco farmland on all sides, it wasn't a huge surprise to Tim when a sickly-looking puppy, a Pointer, from a nearby farm made her way to his doorstep. No one was taking care of the pup, and after seeing her wandering the streets more than once, Tim decided to give her a name—Maggy—and find her a home. This was when our paths first crossed.
My husband and I were considering becoming dog owners at the time, but we were hesitant and nervous about the commitment a pet can require. We both had full-time jobs at the college and wouldn't have time to train a puppy. Tim promised that if it didn't work out, he would give Maggy a home himself even though he already had two big dogs in his backyard to care for on his own. If you know anything about pets (or kids), you probably know that my husband and I didn't make it very long with the puppy. There just wasn't time. She wasn't as well trained as we had hoped, and after running through the fields of Maxton for the first six months of her life, it seemed criminal to keep such an energetic dog inside all day while we worked (and we knew that Tim had the big fenced-in backyard that our house lacked). And when we admitted that it wasn't working out, Tim—true to his word—took Maggy in without question. He never hesitated. He never expressed disappointment in us. He simply did the right thing. He was one of the most warm and giving people I have ever met, and he'll be missed by humans and dogs alike.
I only found out Tim died a few hours ago, but it didn't take long for me to start feeling contemplative and want to write about losing him. Ironically, when I posted the news on Facebook an hour ago, I had no words and had to rely on some lines from W.H. Auden's "Funeral Blues" to convey my sense of loss:
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come...
The stars are not wanted now, put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
Since Tim was both a dog lover and a piano player as well as being the kind of person who seemed to bring the sun with him everywhere he went, this poem seemed fitting.
To be completely honest, I have lost too many friends this past year. I suppose that's simply a part of getting older. And it seems that—like everyone else—when I lose someone I can't help but feel that life is too short to worry about what others think. It's definitely too short to worry about people I'll probably never meet criticizing me or my blog.
So I guess what this means is that I'm ready to give this thing a fair shake. I'm sorry for the lapse, and I'll try to write as often as I can from here on out.