In memoriam for a former college roommate

The mail today brought bad news.  It was even worse because the envelope arrived about two weeks ago and I did not open it until early this morning.

One of my freshman (first year) roommates at Dartmouth College, Tom Ludlow, has passed away.  Class of 1974.  Lymphoma.  I read this news with great sadness.

Living in Australia for the past 32 years, I have not kept in much contact with Tom (or many at Dartmouth, for that matter), but we talked on the phone some years back – about Dartmouth College business.  Tom was courtly, well-mannered, sincere and deeply community-minded.  He was not yet 60 when he died.

Richard Ranger, the Class of ’74 President and long-time newsletter editor, introduced the death of Tom and two other classmates with one of Richard’s insightful, poetic and melodic meditations, part of which I reproduce below as it is worth being read by a wider audience:

Making sense of significant deaths is something we all face, and something a great many of us have had to face.  In the public conversation among alumni of prestige colleges it is uncharacteristic to speak of death.  Instead, our conversation tends to dwell in the indefinite and imagined summer between graduation and achievement, where the wedding guests are handsome and well-dressed, the occasional children announced as if greeting the guests in the Trapp Family ballroom shortly before bed, and where the incremental milestones of learning and profession presented to polite but disceerning applause.  Death is acknowledged, to be sure, formerly in a smaller font size at the end of the Alumni Magazine, and now only online.  But a distance is maintained between how we experience death and how we discuss it in the public conversation.  There are many reasons for this, many of them purposeful and constructive.  But most of us find ourselves at some point adrift within that distance, between the distant shore of the public conversation, and the approaching shore of our mortality, appearing at the edge of the formerly limitless horizons of our imagined summers.

To Richard Ranger, to my (third) surviving freshman room-mate (also named Rick) and to the memory of Tom Ludlow, for whom I now mourn:  may your spirits soar like eagles in the unlimited sky, may your lives be filled with happiness and joy, and may you find peace.

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