Connections in the stars

On September 2, 2004, a man almost nobody heard of outside his peer group, climbed a media scaffold in Springfield, Ohio and started filming the political speech John Kerry was delivering to the crowd. Within minutes, he was having a heart attack. The paramedics reached him, but not in time to save his life.

He was more than a newspaper man. He was a philosopher, a thinker, a dreamer and a very good friend. He opened his heart, mind and soul to this cocky, inquisitive artist from the second floor who kept bothering him at the end of the day… or showing up at lunchtime with no purpose other than to talk about everything and nothing.

He always had time.

A friend sent me this quote out of the blue the other day. It reminded me of Jeff.

“Although I am a typical loner in daily life, my consciousness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice keeps me from feeling isolated.” — Albert Einstein

When I was working at the Dayton Daily News, we produced a Newspaper in Eduction page on constellations. His wife — who is the director of astronomy at our local plantarium — was a consultant for me on that page. Her enthusiasm for the stars was infectious and wove itself into the fabric of my indelible memories.

Jeff died young, but he is with me almost every night when I venture out to walk my dogs. When the sky is clear, I look up to count the stars in Orion’s Belt, then drift north to locate the Pleiades*.

When the sky is cloudy over Dayton, Ohio and I cannot see Orion, I get anxious about losing a connection to a soul who understood mine without words. I feel the ground shift under me and my heart races to find a handrail to anchor the irrational terror I will die having established no purpose, no connection to humanity.

Silly, I know, yet….

*If you are reading this in the Southern Hemisphere, drift south from Orion’s Belt.