Indistinguishable elements

Dear blog readers,

Yesterday afternoon Jeff and I got shocking news of the unexpected death of a dear family member, Larry.  Those of you who read the comments may already know of him through his thoughts that he often posted here.  Larry was the husband of Jeff’s younger sister, Jennifer. He died Saturday at their home in Tennessee, apparently of a massive heart attack. He was 54 years old, a husband, father and grandfather, and a true son to Jeff’s widowed mother, to whom he was especially close.

He was usually behind the camera, not in front of it, so photos of him are rare.  I did find this one I took of him in August 2009, when he wasn’t looking:

Larry grabs a few minutes of quiet after a family gathering in August 2009.

Larry grabs a few minutes of quiet after a family gathering in August 2009, Centerville, TN.

I have never known anyone who worked harder than Larry, but he defied the stereotype of driven Type A behavior.  He was soft spoken, cheerful, astoundingly patient and always kind.  In fact, he is one of very few people I have known for decades about whom I can say that I never once heard him say anything mean about anybody, or put anyone else down in any way.  In more than 35 years of knowing him, I never saw him angry or rude.  I feel that this world will be a less friendly and loving place without him.

Larry had worked the day before, as he did for years, as a radiographer at a local hospital, taking x-rays, CT scans and other types of diagnostic imaging.  His job required him to work long hours and many holidays, but you would never hear him complain.  He felt great compassion toward the patients he served, and toward anyone who was suffering.  He gave me honest and often reassuring explanations of some of the complex statistics of Jeff’s many radiology reports.  I can’t imagine being unable to talk about such things with him.

Jeff and I feel numb with shock.  As always, and now more than ever, we appreciate your prayers for us and our family, and especially for the many people who will miss Larry so keenly in the coming weeks and months and years.  In particular we are mindful of his young grandson who spent many happy hours with his PaPa and will no doubt be lost without him.

It is a consolation of sorts to know that Larry died quickly and without prolonged suffering.  Jeff’s mother said that his face was full of peace when she saw him.  Knowing Larry’s great faith in God, I take comfort in thinking of him at home with the heavenly Father who was his constant source of strength and hope.

Because I have these posts scheduled in advance, they will continue as normal, with one exception.  Below is a post that I originally had scheduled for next Wednesday.  I have changed it to be today’s post, because it seemed more appropriate.

The grave of Ralph Waldo Emerson (center) and family members, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts, June 2012

The grave of Ralph Waldo Emerson (center) and family members,
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts, June 2012

“Truly the universe is full of ghosts, not sheeted churchyard spectres, but the inextinguishable elements of individual life, which having once been, can never die, though they blend and change, and change again for ever.”H. Rider Haggard

One year ago today I wrote about the attraction I feel toward graveyards, with all their untold stories.  In Concord Massachusetts there’s a wonderful old cemetery called — I am not making this up — Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  Within its winding paths is a section known as Author’s Ridge, where one can see the graves of the Thoreau, Emerson, Alcott and Hawthorne families.

Even without the resting places of these famous individuals, the cemetery is a fascinating place.  While most of us are aware of the ways Emerson, Thoreau and others have left indistinguishable elements that remain today, I have no doubt that people whose names we would not recognize have left legacies as well.

Many of them have direct descendents who are citizens of Concord or other places.  Some exerted influence as educators, politicians, clergy, business owners, readers and writers who lived and worked and left bits of their thoughts and characters behind for us to discover in generations to come.

Each and every life changes the world in some way.  What indistinguishable elements are you creating, that will be here and live on when your physical body is gone?

One year ago this week:

A graveyard can teach you


  1. Julia, Jeff, Matt and Drew…my condolences to you and all of Larry’s family.
    May the memories in your heart help to ease some of the pain.

    • Thank you Merry. ❤

  2. Our hearts are breaking for you all. Our prayers redoubled.
    Thank you for this post…It should give us all pause.
    “The Lord giveth and The Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of The Lord” – Job 1:21
    We love you.

    • Thank you Carla. ❤

  3. Dear Julia, I am so sorry for your loss. I do remember reading posts from Larry, and I suspect that those posts will be missed by many of us that didn’t even know him.
    Thank you for sharing this blog for Larry as well as your previously composed post. Despite working towards getting my will in order, I believe that what we leave behind is mostly intangible, and perhaps for that reason, more precious.
    I’ll be praying for you and your family.
    Love, comfort and blessings,

    • Thank you Susan. ❤ I know Larry's family will appreciate reading these comments. It means a great deal to me that he was part of this blog community.

  4. Julia, Jeff, and family, I am saddened to learn of Larry’s death. We knew him here through his caring comments of encouragement. He mentioned Jeff’s mom so often and many times I had envisioned them reading your blog and enjoying. Prayers going out to all that are dealing with this loss. Love, Sheila

    • Thank you Sheila. ❤ I shared your email message from yesterday with Jeff's mother and she recognized your name immediately. 🙂 I know your words were a comfort to her.

  5. Chris and Carlos

    Julia and Jeff, I was so saddened to hear of your loss. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

    • Thank you Chris and Carlos. ❤

  6. May Larry rest in peace. What a loving tribute to a kind human being. ♥

    • Thank you Misifusa. ❤

  7. Ann

    Dear Julia, sincere sympathy for the loss of Larry. My dear brother’s funeral was one week ago today. Loss of a close family member leaves such a hole or vacuum, doesn’t it?

    Your blog with its constant defiance of despair has been a comfort to me during the past week. Reading random past blogs and the comments always provides a comfort and sometimes a smile.

    Prayers for you and yours,

    • Thank you Ann. ❤ I am grateful that this blog has brought you comfort at such a difficult time. The loss of someone close reverberates through days, weeks, months, and the pain strikes without warning at times. We so appreciate your prayers and your presence here, as well as your kind words and encouragement about the blog.

  8. Praying for you and your family during your time of loss.

    • Thank you Fran. ❤

  9. Rene

    Julia, I am so sorry.

    • Thank you Rene. ❤

  10. LB

    Oh goodness, Julia, I am so very sorry for the loss of this dear family member. Your eulogy to him was beautiful and describes a loving, dear person. My thoughts are with you all.

    • Thank you LB. ❤ Words always feel inadequate at such times, so I appreciate your encouragement about my attempt to remember Larry here.

  11. Amy

    My dear friend, I will be saying a special prayer for all of you at this sudden death and the hole it has created. God be with you.

    • Thank you Amy. ❤ How many rocky roads you have traveled with us, from close by or literally halfway around the world! Love you.

  12. I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    • Thank you Jena. ❤

  13. Larry sounds like a lovely man – one who spread much light about as he walked so quietly and patiently through his life. Your eulogy to him was both thoughtful and inspiring. I am sorry for your family’s loss. You are asked to bear much Julia and I send you love and condolence and solace. xoxo

    • Thank you Pauline. ❤ You have described him perfectly. We so appreciate your kind presence here.

  14. I am truly sorry for your loss, Julia. My thoughts and prayers go out to you, your family and all who held Larry in high regard. Requiescat in pace, Larry.

    • Thank you Alan. ❤

  15. Carolyn

    I’m sorry to hear this about Larry. All the family will be in our thoughts and prayers. Larry is gone but his family will have wonderful memories. I pray for comfort and peace to all. Hugs and love.

    • Thank you Carolyn. ❤

  16. My deepest sympathy. Praying for you & your entire family.

    • Thank you Barb. ❤

  17. Jack

    Prayers that Gods great love will be even more real to you and all of Larry’s family in the tough days ahead. Blessings to you all

    • Thank you Jack. ❤

  18. Julia, I am so sorry for the loss of your dear loved one. I would have loved to have known him. May you all be covered in love and light during this time.

    • Thank you Cherie. ❤ I feel sure that you would have liked Larry, especially if you had to deal with him in a medical setting. If he was the same at work as at home (which I imagine he was) his voice was very quiet and soothing, never abrupt or annoyed as so many tired hospital staff can tend to be. We appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers.

  19. On no Julia, I’m very saddened to hear of Larry’s sudden passing. Jeff’s sister and the whole family must be in despair. I’m sending heartfelt sympathy. Larry sure sounded like a really generous soul, what a tragedy.

    I’ve been absent, busy with work mostly with hardly a free day in-between. I wanted to swing by and catch up, I’m sorry to be met with this terrible news. How are you and the family? Will you be traveling to Tennessee this week? Gentle hugs xK

    • Thank you K. They are all pretty much in shock too, though they seem to be managing well. Jeff’s time at Sloan-Kettering (which has been scheduled for weeks now) unfortunately conflicts with Larry’s funeral, so we can’t go, but are planning a trip to be with them soon. They will be reading part of what I wrote for the blog at his funeral and our flowers are already there, so I’d like to think there will be some tangible part of us to represent that we are there in spirit. It all still feels a bit unreal to us. We haven’t really come to terms with the idea we will not be seeing him again in this life. We are so glad that we were with him and the family just last month.

  20. So sorry Julia. The loss of such a wonderful loved one is always devastating, but one so young even more. You and your family will be included in our prayers. I hope the memories of Larry will shine upon you and all the lives that he touched and help you through this terrible time.

    • Thank you Patricia. ❤ "Shine" is a very good verb to describe how the memories of Larry already seem in our hearts and minds. When I get angry or impatient I am going to think of him and try to live up to his example. Thanks so much for your kind thoughts and prayers!

  21. Oh, Julia, I am so sorry for your sudden loss of Larry; that just is devastating. Wishing your families peace and comfort, even if they feel like they would be a million miles away. He sounded like a wonderful guy and I am going to go back and read some of his posts.

    • Thank you Kathy. ❤ Larry was one of those people who are too easily taken for granted, because he never expected nor demanded much attention, just worked away quietly in the background, supporting everyone. It's a shock to lose such people without warning, and they always leave a huge void to fill. His example with stay with us, though. We appreciate your kind thoughts.

  22. My condolences. My prayers go out to you and your family at this time.

    • Thank you! ❤

  23. Jadonna Hight

    Larry was a kind individual and a joy to be around. He was a blessing to the medical profession and the radiology profession. He well truly be missed. Prayers for each of his family as they carry on his legacy.

    • Thank you, Jadonna. It is lovely to hear from someone who knew Larry. I so appreciate your visit here and your kind thoughts and prayers.

  24. Michael

    Sorry for your loss- Julia. Much too young.

    • Thank you, Michael. It has been a shock and now that it’s sinking in, a deeply felt sorrow.

  25. Michael

    “His constant source of faith and trust. ” I will second that.

    • I will always be grateful for the memories of Larry’s steadfast faith. I never saw him waver from it, nor behave in any manner unbecoming to it.

  26. raynard

    Julia you and your family are in our prayers. Monday the 27th would of been my mom’s 90th birthday. My wife’s aunt who we take care of her husband passed away yesterday. I last seen him Labor day in the rehab facility. His wife saw him last Friday and from what i’m told the last stroke affected her brain more. She on the outside has not cried yet. But I explained to my wife, her soul and spirit has felt him slipping and God calling him home.

    • Thank you Raynard. I know you must think of your Mom so much at this time of year. I am sorry to hear about your aunt’s husband; it is always hard to say goodbye even when people are in the late stages of life and can’t be in their own homes anymore. I agree with you that on some level your aunt must sense what is happening. If she is weeping inside I pray she is comforted. I am glad that you and your wife are there for her.

  27. Julia, I’m just catching up and see I’ve missed this most profound and deeply sad news. I’m very sorry for this shocking and sudden loss. What a wonderful man, and a great member of your family. So young, too. Arms around all of you. I wish I could be here reading your lovely words.

    • Thank you Alys. They read some of this post at his funeral yesterday. It’s a big shock to everyone who knew him. Life is so fragile and we always know that nobody is promised tomorrow, but somehow it’s still hard to believe when we lose someone unexpectedly.

  28. MaryAnn

    Julia, What a touching tribute to Larry! You captured for us a glimpse of a terrific role model, someone to emulate. I do not think I know anyone who was as positive as Larry, with only good things to say. You are correct: he WILL be missed.
    Prayers for the family.

    • Thank you, Mary Ann. He was definitely an exceptional person. We appreciate your prayers!

  29. Michael

    I looked back and saw Larry’s posting on the 16th in praise of veterans- one of his last? I will miss his thoughtful posts. I feel a connection in that I was a medical ultrasound tech. for a number of years. Last year I lost a dear brother in law at age 60-so that loss continues.

    • Yes, I too will miss hearing from Larry. I got a lot of behind-the-scenes encouragement about the blog from him via Jeff’s mother. Each morning they would sit and read it together before Larry left for work. They are two of the people I was writing for. Now his mother won’t have any way of reading it, since Jennifer doesn’t use the computer.

      I’m sorry for the loss of your brother in law. You are right in saying that it’s an ongoing thing. So many little things will crop up to remind us. When Jeff got back from Sloan Kettering I had to remind myself I could not email Larry about the results. It still feels a bit unreal.

  30. Michael

    Yes and as you know the holidays are not easy after such an untimely loss.

    • Michael, we are trying to make some special plans to be with family at some time during the holidays this year. The logistics will be difficult but we all really need to support each other. I expect it will be very difficult especially for Jennifer and Jeff’s mom. Hope your family is doing OK.

  31. So sorry for your sudden loss, Julia.
    I hope your fond memories sustain you in this time of grief.

    • Thank you Denise. The reality is beginning to sink in, but we do find consolation in all the good times we can look back on.


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