Monday, October 19, 2020

Back to Texas: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 888: A Toast to Dan


A toast for Dan, Lake Livingston State Park, Texas. October 2020.


Yesterday afternoon, when I neared Livingston, Texas, I pulled into a Walmart to select a sparking white wine. 

I prefer reds such as a pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon, but the wine wasn't for me. 

It was for my best Tucson buddy, Dan. He liked good sparkling whites. I bought a prosecco that he would have likely sniffed his nose at (both literally and figuratively), good-naturedly, but, well, he wasn't there, so ...

Dan wasn't there because two weeks ago, he died. 

Last night, in the dark, beneath the lacy lingerie of treetops and a deep blue sky, I lifted a toast to Dan, and thanked him for enriching my Tucson year. 


A toast for Dan, Lake Livingston State Park, Texas. October 2020.

We met in 2019 at the weekly blues fusion dance event, held at CeeCee's Jamaican restaurant on Speedway. Dan was a superb dance partner! He liked a little drama in his dance step, as do I. He was all about both of us enjoying the dance, and he forgave all of my missteps. Dan made me look good and we synced well. He made it easy to be a follow.

Dan took me to my very first hockey game. He took me to my first football game since I was a high schooler. As an alum, he proudly showed me around the UA campus before the football game. 

We took a day trip together so that Dan could introduce me to various Arizona points of interest. A man who liked organized planning, I drove, but he carefully plotted all of our stopping points for the day, including a lunch break in Sierra Vista. Dan showed me Tombstone, Bisbee, Naco, Miller Peak, and even Miracle Valley. 

Dan loved good wine, especially white sparkling wines. I'd call him a sensualist, with his love for blues fusion and tango dancing, for the flavors of cheeses and meats and olives and sweets, an ear for the instrumentals in music of all genres, for the visual and perhaps tactile adventure of his cactus collection. 

I know this sounds like I'm stating the obvious, but: death wasn't in Dan's plan for this year. 

However, even before COVID's heavy blanket descended, 2019-2020 was different for Dan. 

There were unsettling, seemingly discrete, medical things that cropped up. Not trivial, but not un-fixable. A treatable this. A treatable that. An elevated this. An ophthalmological issue that popped up, and which required prompt treatment and slow recovery. Then a scarier thing presented itself, for which he underwent a course of treatment of some months, which resulted, he was told (at least at first?) in a clear report.

There were disconcerting and unexpected changes, too, in some social and cultural activities that he'd lovingly participated in for decades, which became suddenly, somehow elusive, for a variety of reasons.

The cloud of COVID settled in, and Dan sometimes struggled with the isolation. 

Dan suffered a grief, as well, for someone close to him, who was gravely ill. 

Twelve months, being worn down, bit by bit.  

There is a gap in the universe where he once stood. Where he danced.

Goodbye, Dan.


A toast for Dan, Lake Livingston State Park, Texas. October 2020.











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