When a Friend Dies

When a Friend Dies

Apologies for my absence. Regular posts will resume next week. The phone call came last Sunday. My sister, her voice broken, “Have you heard about Robert?” Not family, but same as. My throat constricts and my body fills with cold stones. Car accident. There was a memorial service in his […]

Apologies for my absence. Regular posts will resume next week.

The phone call came last Sunday. My sister, her voice broken, “Have you heard about Robert?” Not family, but same as. My throat constricts and my body fills with cold stones. Car accident.

Seascape photo by Holger Eckstein
Seascape, by Holger Eckstein

There was a memorial service in his hometown of Raleigh on Wednesday at 5. The church was full by 4. It’s a big church. The funeral was in New York, where he lived, on Monday. The Church of the Heavenly Rest on Fifth Avenue holds 1,200. There was standing room only. Robert Williamson. Golden boy, husband, father, brother, son, friend, hedge fund executive, air-guitarist, athlete–and really good at all of them. Really good. This outpouring of grief and love is testament not only to Robert but to his family and friends. This Was A Life.

Our families have been connected for four generations; and funnily enough, Robert’s the only boy my sister and I both dated—though not at the same time. He ended up marrying her best friend. They made a great couple.

A while ago I ran across an old photo of Robert and me taken the night he took me to the St. Mary’s spring dance, ca. 1976. Sadly out of reach at the moment, but it’s one of those photos you see and immediately bust out laughing (slightly different from burst). Clearly the blow dryer and I had not yet worked out the issue of cowlicks. Otherwise there is no explaining my coif, which cannot have been intentional. As for Robert, the immortal words of P.G. Wodehouse come to mind: “Please cut your hair. You look like a chrysanthemum.” Out of respect, I won’t mention the Carolina blue tuxedo.

Sky Over Ocean by Frances Schultz
A Carolina blue sky

Part of me wants to crash ahead, frantic to do everything never done, right every wrong, tie up every loose end in a bow–and part of me doesn’t want to get out of bed. What is the use of a senseless death, of a family’s broken hearts, of a thousand weeping friends? We cannot know. But get out of bed we must and forge ahead we must, and in doing so honor this full and meaningful life of Robert’s–and of our own.

Seascape photo courtesy Holger Eckstein Photography. Sky photo by me.

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