Archive for November, 2012

The Power of Gentle Men, Bromance, and the Miracle of Presence

Posted in Uncategorized on November 23, 2012 by michaelcogdill

My parents had a courtly friend who seemed to adore answering only to Mr. Bill.

Mr. Bill, in his 90’s, drove a Porsche, wore tweed, and somehow refined the air everywhere he went. He never visited my folks without blossoms in one hand, a little box of sweetness in the other. No monarch ever moved through life with finer manner. His eyes would rival Mother Teresa’s in looking like they’d just sighted the tracks of God.

Mr. Bill and my father shared an affliction. They met in therapy for incurable lung disease. In their grabbing for wind and a few more months of life, they took a fine and unbreakable hold on one another. It was the truest like and love I’d ever seen between two brothers of other mothers. Each made the other a better, stronger man.
When my father died, a few days before Thanksgiving, I sat by the casket at his wake, receiving the scores of my father’s friends. He knew so many I didn’t know he knew. Jill took fine care of my mom, who just couldn’t tolerate the sight of my father in death when he’d been so alive. So beside me, for most of that wake, sat Mr. Bill. He stayed with me long after dark. He stayed until the Porsche was alone in the parking lot.
I don’t remember a thing of what we talked about. I only remember the feel of it. The tender presence of that beautiful man remains eloquent in my heart. His simple and quiet state of being there spoke the language of heavens. Merely present, he made himself a mortal Nirvana, the answer of all of Divine faiths in their talk of what it means to care-take another soul.

His presence spoke love as I have never seen or heard scribes or poets quite so beautifully speak it. As he had been for my father, he was for me God’s man for that day and night. There is no language fit for such love.

Mr. Bill died just a few short weeks after that day. His son and I, broken of heart, soon celebrated our dads in tears and talk that fell so far short of them. I don’t remember the words. The presence between us mattered far more.

Now, please, do not read sadness into this. This is fitted to the joy parts of you, not the gloom. I write this with a smile, a celebration.

I tell this story to remind all of us that death is a weak little bastard not fit to fear. Faith reminds us of this. What we ought fear, instead, is any failure to love, even the smallest.

Presence is never small.   Your presence matters. It speaks, even in silence.

It matters to people you love, and to utter strangers. Even silent presence is witness of faith, act of love, a poetry written by shoe heels and wrapped arms, well shaken hands and remembering. It need not even share a room to share among hearts. One act of presence is somehow good for a lifetime, no match for separation.

This moment, I feel the presence of my dad and Mr. Bill, both gone, yet somehow here, present within, remembered, celebrated, adored, sweetening the moment, and making me a far better man.