We exchanged notes electronically more often than we spoke on the phone, probably about every ten days for the last ten plus years. I met him about eighteen years ago when he was becoming the 'military beat' reporter for The Day newspaper, a daily based in New London, Connecticut, a town across the river from this country's oldest submarine base.
I had nothing to do with submarines and almost as little to do with the training of the contents of them and yet he always checked in or listened to an idea for a story I was struggling to pitch and more often than not made something out of what we both knew had started as less than nothing.
He was an extraordinarily fair person who not only believed there were two sides to every story but who strove to make sure he had shared ALL sides of every story. He always succeeded. From the first time I met I felt like I'd known him my whole life and that we would always know one another.
In a way we did.
He and I had exchanged notes about a week and a half ago on a yet another matter of grave national import, those were the tangents I sent us off on and always did, that was capped by some down home wisdom as a man who was both a contemporary and a confessor always managed to bring our discussions back to family and futures, home and hearth.
I'm sitting here now typing these words struggling to remember his, saddened to tears that there will be no more words to ever remember as my friend Bob, died yesterday morning in his home, at the age of 57.
I'm a better human-a husband, a father, a citizen, what-have-you, for having known him. There are no words I can offer to his children and his wife that will ease the hurt they will feel every day of the rest of their lives. I stole this thought and offer it as all that I have or ever will be able to offer: "Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal."