Friday, March 9, 2012

This is Public Service

Gary DeCramer

On Wednesday night, I sat on the couch at a friend's house, and said, "I am one of perhaps a thousand people who feel exactly the same way I do, right now, about this one person."

One of thousands of people who are sincerely shaken, devastated, and heartbroken by the loss of a single individual who, through being who he was, touched them all.

I don't know how Gary DeCramer got any "work" done, as he dropped everything whenever anyone stopped by his office and tapped on his door. It did not matter who you were. He may have held up a hand to give you pause, but when he finished whatever he was doing, he was all yours.

But this WAS his work. People. Relationships. True and salient leadership through the most humble of actions: listening. This is not to diminish his brilliance and intelligence. Indeed, his ability to focus and listen only added to his discernment. 

In the bright constellation of Gary's career, I am but an observer in a planetarium, but because of who he was, I want to add my notes to the log. His commitment to the common good will live on in the people he inspired.

I cannot think of him or see his name without tears because when I think of him, he pops into my head so clearly, and I know that those images are mine to hold, as they will never be repeated in real life. Smiling at me as he approaches, his arms already open for an embrace. Offering up a witty and perhaps ribald remark on current events as we commiserated over the news of the day. Lighting up over a poem he wanted to share with the class to focus their study...

"Mama," Finn said, "are you sad?"

"Yes, darlin', I am. My friend Gary died."

"Did his heart break?"

"Yes, honey. Sometimes that happens. I'm sad, but we will be okay."

Gary would have wanted it that way.

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