The Seventh Day of the Seventh Month

The Birthday of a Legend & Inspiration Day

Dear W,

I get it. It took me almost three years to get it but I got it. Your last two birthdays have been tough. Nay, devastating. To think that on this day, the seventh of July in the year nineteen eighty-seven, you graced us humans with your presence, is a miracle in and of itself. I never quite understood why having a baby was sometimes labeled a ‘miracle.’ I thought of it as a regular occurrence (perhaps due to the fact I haven’t had any kids yet and haven’t gone through the experience firsthand). I considered it a part of everyday life. But if you really think about it, if you close your eyes and think…it’s a miracle.

Granted, to arrive at this conclusion, one usually has to experience deep, painful loss in order to appreciate the pure, overwhelming joy that is birth and life. If we don’t take everyday life for granted, you can see it. You can feel it. You can believe it. And although you are no longer physically present, I can still see you. I can still feel you. I can still believe (in) you.

People change. Times change. I changed when I went to college. I changed when I got married. I’ll change when I become a father. But I also changed when I met you. I didn’t know it at the time we met, but I started to sense it at the time you departed this world and I now fully know it. I don’t just see the world differently because of you, I see people differently because of you. Everybody, every body, every one, everyone, is of interest. From the shape of a cloud to the accent of the Turkish cab driver to the tourist couple from Haiti in Prospect Park to the humpback whale swimming in the sea. The existence of the thing. The idea of anything and any thing makes life, life. Makes life beautiful. To you, nothing and no thing was less than.

I think about the story of Harry Potter and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and specifically, the seven Horcruxes. Rather than leaving parts of yourself in physical objects in order to selfishly preserve your physical body, you have left a part of your self in each person you encountered. More specifically: we are Wiley, Wiley is us. You had this approach to life and we had our approach to life. We knew you did things a little differently than we did, but we both were good with it. Sometimes, when we were around you, we would act more like you and meet you closer to the middle. But if you weren’t around, it was much harder—and rarer—to “be like Wiley.” In a tragic case of irony, it takes you not physically being here in order for “more” versions of Wiley to be present. Everyone that I know that you know, has told me about AT LEAST one story about how when presented with a scenario, they consciously thought about you and how you would do if given they same scenario. And then they “do as Wiley would” in the situation and emerge feeling:

  1. Fun(ny)
  2. Positive
  3. Love
  4. All of the above.

And these same people—myself included—would not have done so if they/we weren’t forced to by your lack of (physical) presence. And that is it. Though you are not physically here, there are moments of Wiley popping up amongst all of us here and there over the last few years and months that will continue into the future. At work. At the ocean. In the streets. In the park. And we are passing it on here and there to our new friends, extended family members, (new) co-workers, (new) relationships, and eventually, kids.

I’ve had other people in my life pass on. I never made a conscious decision to be more like them. I’ve never heard of so many people, women and men, teammates and family members, high school and college friends make conscious decisions to “live more like” (blank) after they have gone. So I’m taking this seventh of July not just as your birthday, but also as an Inspiration Day. The simple fact you exist(ed) is inspiring. You liv(ed) a way that nobody else could, because, well, who could live like that other than you? But I have little Wiley moments throughout my days and months and years. And all those that know and knew you, do as well. And that is it. That’s how you live on. Through us. On the seventh day of the seventh month, I will do a random act of some thing, something very Wileyish. I don’t know what it will be until I am doing it. It could be anything that is

  1. Fun(ny)
  2. Positive
  3. Love
  4. All of the above

And when the person(s)on the receiving end of this Wileyish act, on the seventh day of the seventh month, asks you what this is all about, you can respond with:

“Oh that? That’s my Wiley…”

Eternally, your friend,

A. King