As I sit to write this blog entry my best friend, Arty Miller, is dying  has died in a hospital 50 miles away in New York City.  I wrote the other day about our friendship (Click HERE to read) so I wont go into details, suffice to say he is the definition of a true friend.  Over the last week, as his health continued to decline, I found myself faced with the spectre of losing yet another person whom I expected to share the remainder of my time under the sun with.  With each new day’s progressively worse news I found myself taking a mental role call of all the souls in my life that I have lost: All 7 of my uncles, nearly all of my Aunts, several close cousins, both of my Grandmothers, my father and finally Rees.  My family tree, which once was full and verdant – now finds itself almost as barren and grey as a winter oak.


After losing Rees, I really thought I couldn’t lose much more.  I was wrong – and now I find myself on the verge of losing the friend who helped steer me through my greatest loss. I keep trying to wrap my head around how a good man can be taken from a world that clearly needs more goodness in it.   I shudder to think of the effect the loss of his kind heart will have on an entire community of people whose lives he touched.  What purpose does taking a 36 year old man with a heart of gold from this world serve?   How can I lose my son, my childhood best friend and my adult best friend all within the span of two years??  I am sick of losing.  I have lost too much.  My friends and family have lost too much.  The very simple question remains: Why?

“How can God let this happen?” – is a phrase my ears keep hearing from those closest to him.  In our inability to make sense of the senseless, we search for answers in a place we will never find them.  I don’t blame God for what is happening.  I can’t blame something that I have no evidence of even existing.  There may very well be a God, but I certainly have never met her or have seen compelling evidence that proves his existence.  I recall denying the existence of one when my little boy died.  I vividly recall the priest coming over to me after Rees was declared dead and offering prayers and comfort – and citing God as a source of both.  My answer was an angry, profanity laced tirade that was as much about anger as it was about my pre-existing skepticism.  When I responded with words I would have never said to a priest at any other time, I immediately regretted them.  I walked over to the priest and apologized and he told me that he forgives me and so does God.  I walked away feeling better about the forgiveness the priest gave me – but as for God?  I am still not sure.

I am not sure whether or not God exists.  I know there are many people who have a belief that leaves no room for any uncertainty.  I wish I felt that way.  I think that most people have some doubt – and I also believe that is healthy.  We are supposed to question the world around us.  Questioning and asking “why?” is what makes us human.  I think that every utterance of “How could God let this happen?” stems from that doubt.  When God is a part of the equation, we don’t have the answers and therefore we are left with a mystery that has no answer.  This combination is one that leaves us more hurt, as God’s perceived silence acts like salt added to a fresh wound.  It is in these times that I find looking at what we know to be true offers more comfort than the question of whether or not God is watching over us, and how he can let terrible things happen.  I find comfort in the things I know…

If we look at the universe from a fundamental perspective you see that we live in a random universe that shows no bias- good or bad, dark or light.  When you take everything that we know about the natural world a realization forms that we are all the stuff of stars…every element in our body was forged in the heart of dying star billions of years ago.  What we are, at an empirical level, is a collection of atomic legos improbably put together to create the vessel our souls hitch a ride in.  Our very existence is so improbable that it borders on impossible, yet here we stand – granted a moment in space-time to bask in the warmth of our own star.  Our moments in the sun are astronomical improbabilities, yet here we stand; capable of understanding our infinitesimally small place in the universe.

We are more than just atomic legos stitched together randomly.  The sum of our parts does not equal the whole.  There is an undeniable “spark” that grants us the ability to look up into the vastness that surrounds us and wonder “why?”.  Call it our soul, ka, vital essence, etc. it’s all the same: it’s energy.  Energy cannot be created or destroyed, merely transformed.  Matter cannot be created or destroyed, merely transformed.  When the atoms that make up our shell break down, they rejoin the milieu from which they came.  Logic then dictates that when we die our energy, our soul must go on.  If that is the case then, upon our passing, we rejoin the flow of energy that binds the universe together and become part of a larger “force”.

Call it what you want… (most simply say “God”) – Science tell us there has to be something more.   My experience with Rees has given me all the evidence I need to corroborate this.  My friend has only left his shell.  He will always be here, just a bit less organized.  If I accept these precepts as the truth we understand today then there is no need to condemn anything or ask “why him?”.   If you look at our existence this way, and realize that there already exists the evidence that we never truly die, then there is great comfort to be found there.  We will all be reunited one day, in another form. That’s why I don’t say goodbye, and also how I reconcile the fact that beautiful people are taken when others clearly don’t deserve, or appreciate, the gift of their moment under the sun.

I will miss my friend Arty all the days of my life.  I have lost someone who helped steer me through the travails of this life.  Right now I feel lost.  I have lost.  I will lose.  But I also must remember all that I gained from the fact he existed here: He made my moment in the sun a better one and his love and memory will continue to do so until that day my moment ends and I am reunited with him. I love you brother.  Give Rees a hug from his Daddy.  I know you are out there my friend. We will continue that conversation on another plane. You will always be a superhero to me.  May the force be with you, always…





8 Responses

  1. Rich, Although I am your cousin, and we have never physically met, I feel I am connected to you through more than just blood. Your connections to the people you love come to life as you write and remember them. You have a great gift being able to write and touch so many emotions and feelings, and every time you write a piece such as this you honor those you loved and lost. Blessings to you and yours.

  2. I have friends who worked with Arty and have expressed such admiration for him. As you said, you were lucky to have him in your life, and he will hold Rees in his arms.
    Your writing expresses emotions in such a moving way. Your honesty about your feelings and beliefs are heartwarming. I find some days I think about what you have written long after I have read your words.
    I just had my first grandchild and think often of families that have lost children. I know many who have. Looking at my grandson I can’t even fathom what you have all experienced, but all I can do is keep you all in my prayers and ask for special blessings for you and your family.

  3. Having read both of your posts I can truly say I am touched to the core. I was blessed having known Arty the past three summers and I can truly say he is one of the kindest, most caring people I have had the privilege to know. He touched our lives with his humor and positive way of looking at things. I feel very blessed to have had him be a part of my life. Thank you for your beautiful words.

  4. So sorry for all the pain you have endured. I did not know Arty but it is obvious how special he was. I hope you find comfort in knowing he is with Rees watching over his family and yours. Your family is amazing. You have touched so many people and always remember that you have made a difference. Love to your family and Arty’s.

  5. again, beautifully written. my heart goes out to you and to both of your families. the pain of your losses comes through the written page and directly to the soul. sending love and hugs and, yes, even prayers. i have no answers for you, just share in your pain in the loss of a wonderful man.

  6. So sorry for the loss of your friend. I’m sure you were as good to him as he was to you. This was beautifully written. May all the memories of your friend comfort you.

  7. I read your post the other day… heartfelt and beautifully written. I am so sorry for your loss.

    I don’t know if you realize it, but you show such strength in the face of adversity.


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