On my desk lies a lovely red rose. It's opened perfectly - no longer a bud yet not fully opened. It's exactly the way I think roses should look always. It was taken from the splendid arrangement that adorned the top of my friend Roger's casket. The arrangement was lovingly crafted by his sister-in-law Rita. Rita has a gift.
Roger was the entire tenor section in the choir when I answered the call to direct, about four years ago. He had a little reinforcement in the tenor section for awhile, and then he was THE section once again. During the time that I worked with him, his skills continually grew and his voice seemed to never stop improving. This is not to say that he wasn't great to begin with, because he was. He had a terrific voice. It is to say that he was the type that never stopped learning.
Roger got sick some time back. A terrible infection ravaged his heart and took the sight from one of his eyes. He spent a long time in the hospital and a long time in rehab and a long time recovering at home.
I grieve that I never got to know Roger better than I did. We were all too focused during choir rehearsal to just chat. We were all too busy beforehand to just chat. We were all in too big a hurry to "be somewhere" afterward to just chat. There was just never enough time. I regret that, and I've made an effort to change in recent months.
Roger was a quiet guy. Very private. I'm loathe to admit that I am not great at pulling people out of their shells. I have my walls, too. I guess I figured one day I would just win him over with my irresistable charm (ha, ha!). We ran out of time.
Our friendship was kind of like the rose on my desk. We weren't completely closed off from one another, but we weren't completely splayed open, either. We were just beginning to let each other in - just a little - and it was comfortable. These things take time.
I will miss Roger. Those that he allowed into his heart - his family and childhood friends - will miss him even more. We all feel pretty certain we will see him again in time. And that, too, is comfortable.