February 25, 2005

Chet Nevins - One Year Later

Last week we went back to my parentsí house for a family vacation and the hopes of teaching my daughters to ski.† Unfortunately my oldest daughter, Hope, contracted chicken pox so needless to say our plans had to be somewhat altered.† This meant that there was time to rummage around the house and to go through some of my old things.

As I did so I encountered my pilotís log.† A little black book with only one entryÖ.

While Ray was living in Hackensack he decided it would be a great if we took flying lessons together.† Ray had ALWAYS talked about flying.† I knew this was special for him and I thought it sounded like a lot of fun, so I jumped in my car and drove the 2 Ĺ hours to meet him for the lesson. We signed all of the legal disclaimers, went though a brief ground orientation did a pre-flight inspection, and climbed aboard.† Despite Rayís enthusiasm he selflessly told me to take the co-pilots seat as he jumped in the back, knowing full well you canít change places mid air.† The pilot then allowed me to take the controls, talk to the tower, taxi onto the runway, take off and fly the plane!!! †A truly memorable adventure!!

Once again, Ray had been the catalyst to get me to participate in an experience that I likely would have never taken on under my own volition.† As was so often the case, Ray would come up with these ideas and his simple suggestion, which most would ordinarily pass off as simply a cool idea, would then become reality.

The arrival of the anniversary of Rayís death now completely strikes me as surreal.† I canít believe it has been a year since our world grew darker.

Even when Ray moved cross country to California and the times we shared and conversations grew infrequent, I missed him then along with the absence of shared adventures that might have been.† As our lives had drifted away, as is so often the casualty of life changes to any friendship, it is easy to take for granted that you will always get back together and when you do that things will be as they always were.† Indeed I took for granted that we would have more time.†

As I look around now at pictures and various memorabilia I canít help but drift away in thought that Iíll see Ray again and of our next adventure. Only there wonít be anyÖ Instead Iím resigned to my memories and grateful for the ones we did share.† In retrospect, I deeply regret my lethargic complacency and squandered time. Even still this separation created an expectation of his absence from everyday life and only in moments of reflection and realization am I truly impacted by his loss and an overwhelming sense of remorse.† I have personally never been affected more deeply than I have by Rayís death but even in my grief I cannot imagine the significance of Rayís absence to those who shared his life and expected, relied upon and needed him everyday.†

A year later I hope that I have remained true to his memory.† I find myself now routinely thinking of Ray and how he would approach certain situations; quick to a smile with his relaxed and easy going demeanor, his zest for adventure, his desire to learn and to teach others, and his genuine interest and caring for others.† I hope that I can embrace some of his qualities in my own life, taking take time out to appreciate those I love; to tell them; to leave a note so they can remember exactly how much I cared.† Iíll try to look for adventures everyday, to act on my dreams and simply enjoy life; perhaps finding time for a beer and to call out WooWoo.