Many authors are told to write about their personal experiences. Others advocate for good research as a substitute for “been there, done that.”

Whatever your philosophy, most agree that writing about the human heart makes sense. There are universal traits that transcend borders and inspire and engage. Kindness, fear and love are just a few examples.

Sometimes the process of getting words on paper may be less about selling a work and instead helping someone cope or celebrate. That’s my reason for writing tonight. I am sad and wanted to express myself by reflecting on the loss of a good and decent man.

One day after his seventy eighth birthday, a close friend left us. He had been diagnosed about six weeks ago with cancer. After surgery, the doctors told him that another twelve months was his to do with it as he saw fit. Unfortunately, that promised lifeline was cut short. His wife called my husband on January 11 to tell us what we did not want to hear. Since then, he and his family have been front of mind.

For this gentleman and scholar, I say thank you. You never failed to appreciate your family, colleagues, students and pals. You never took things for granted. You were generous in many ways. You shared your sense of humor and politely listened to my corny jokes. You held out your hand to those in need. You honored your wife and children and made it clear they were your top priority. You encouraged those just starting out as much as you reassured those with a few years under their belt. I never heard you yell or treat anyone with disdain. To the contrary, you were polite. You asked questions. You gently offered insights and wisdom. Yours will be a legacy of integrity and faith in others.

Yes, we lost a friend but we kept his grace. We will remember him as a shining star of humanity and someone who left too soon.