Thoughts on Donnie’s Passing

Thoughts on Donnie’s Passing

In some ways, perhaps not many but important, Donnie was an enigma. That shouldn’t have been so but the world is not as kind and gentle as it should be, and so, within this weathered context, to me, he was difficult to understand. In that he joins most people who have been unusually kind to me, or unusually caring, or even mildly giving in a genuine manner.

Sad but true. He was warm, friendly, charismatic yet humble and self-effacing. I wonder if he ever really knew himself and appreciated how special he was.

We met as college freshmen in a bastion of traditions, good and bad, a cauldron of sorts melding special people, forging them out of disparate elements into a chain blended of silver and steel but bound in gold. A place that brought out the best and worst in people, sometimes simultaneously, but linked us inseparably. It’s a place I’ve always frequented in my dreams, correcting mistakes, blazing paths toward alternative futures. I shouldn’t be surprised if Donnie did the same. I wouldn’t be surprised if we all did.

Four years for most, somewhat less for him; they had a lot to do with making us who we’ve become, for better or for worse.

It’s not a place for everyone. My eldest son followed me there but my second son would not; it was a place he loved, a place he expected to be a part of, but he took oaths seriously and there was a part of one he knew he couldn’t meet. He is the most truly honorable person I know but he could never bring himself to turn on a friend who fell short, and that we were required to do.

It may be that Donnie was one of those who fell short, at least in that respect, and his life was not an easy one. I doubt that he ever attained his full potential but I’m sure that what he attained was far beyond the norm, especially in the way he affected those around him, how he helped them, how he nurtured them, how he brought out the best in them.

Last year was a year of reunions and catharsis for Donnie and for those of us who shared special years with him in what for me is the soul of the American South, if not its heart; the place we call the Holy City. Three days for healing wounds, for forgiving and being forgiven. I believe that those were among the happiest and most meaningful three days of Donnie’s life and I was privileged to share them. In that I was not alone.

I’m certain that among those of us who shared days of our youth with him and those recent days of remembrances, Donnie rests comfortably in our hearts.

Fare well Don.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2014; all rights reserved