August 22, 2012

If there are birds in heaven

“If something’s bothering you,” Ornithologist Guy said, “Go outside somewhere and take a long hike. By the time you come back, you won’t even remember what was bothering to you.” He was talking to a group of first year students — he loved to hang out with our newest crop of students and give them advice — but I was sitting on the lawn next to him, and I think of his words every time I’m in a miserable mood and force myself outside for a long walk.

Ornithologist Guy was a colleague here at Little Green — and a friend. I’ve mentioned him on this blog before. Many times over the last 20 years, I’ve started my day by eating breakfast with him and Scientist Guy in the college snack bar, where we are often joined by students.

Ornithologist Guy was blunt and opinionated. It was fun to argue with him because he always got right to the point. He loved a good joke, even if it was at his own expense. He was smart, and often unexpectedly sweet. He was just a few years older than me — our oldest kids are the same age — and he was a strong, outsdoorsy type guy who loved to walk in the woods. He knew everything about birds, and he loved teaching students to love them as much as he did.

I did not expect him to die.

These last few years, he’s disappeared from time to time for treatments. I knew he had cancer, but everyone thought he was beating it. I saw him last at the end of spring semester. He gave me a hug and asked me about the hikes I’d be taking over the summer. I fully expected to see him this week when I returned to campus.

Then yesterday, I got the email. I’m still in shock.

When I checked facebook last night, students had heard the news and were sharing memories in their status updates. One wrote: “If there are birds in heaven, I sure as hell know that Guy will be teaching everyone about them.” 

22 comments:

Lomagirl said...

What a loss to your community. I lost one of my colleagues unexpectedly this summer, too. The memories and sharing help.

AnnetteK said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. Hugs to you. xo

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I'm so sorry!!! :-(

rented life said...

:( so sorry to hear that. I bet there are birds in heaven.

Cindy said...

Ah, that's the worst kind of loss. Sending hugs.

What Now? said...

What a shock for the community. I hope that the shared memories help to ease the pain.

Val said...

I'm sorry, jo(e). It hurts so much to lose a friend.

Bardiac said...

I'm so sorry, Jo(e). My condolences to you and the whole community. If there's a heaven, there had better darned well be birds and dogs. And otters.

Martha Spong said...

Oh, jo(e). I'm so sorry for your loss.

Rana said...

(o)

Sandy said...

I'm so sorry.

JulieS said...

((()))

Lorianne said...

I'm sorry for your loss. I personally can't imagine a heaven without birds.

liz said...

Thinking of you and of all the people touched by your friend.

susan said...

I'm so sorry, Jo(e).

Zhoen said...

"You get what everyone gets. You get a lifetime."


- Anon.


I'm sorry you lost your friend.

Kyla said...

I'm so sorry, jo(e)! It sounds like he used his life well and touched many lives!

Sarah Sometimes said...

I'm so sorry. Sending you hugs.

jodi said...

I am so sorry.

Yankee, Transferred said...

I'm sorry, jo(e). I feel sure there are birds in heaven. XO

chicago foodie girl said...

Such a beautiful post. I'm so sorry for your loss, jo(e).

Di said...

What a fantastic guy to know. I'm so sorry.