Mourning David Carr, another stranger who made my life brighter

I was thinking about how much I am mourning New York Times reporter David Carr. I never met him even once, though many of my friends and colleagues remember him as a treasured friend and mentor. I particularly liked this remembrance, and this, and this.

Carr’s death stops me in my tracks for many reasons. He was struck down at the top of his game. He had such tremendous human vitality. I would so look forward to catching his latest column on my morning commute. He was just someone who made my life a little brighter, provided a flash of wit and insight, delivered with apparently effortless style.

As I thought about him, I started thinking about a few wonderful friends living with advanced cancer, about the morning last week when I happened to break bread with two good friends who are pretty amazing in their different ways, who I hadn’t seen in awhile.

We all know so many amazing people who light up our lives in routine everyday ways. We take them for granted. How could we not? You can’t start every morning sending effusive emails to every friend, acquaintance, let alone every stranger who makes life a little more special today. It’s more than too time-consuming. It would be staggering even to draw up the list.

We often don’t notice these special people until something unexpected happens that snatches them away. But they are there. Our lives are part of something so much bigger than ourselves.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

One thought on “Mourning David Carr, another stranger who made my life brighter”

  1. "We often don’t notice these special people until something unexpected happens that snatches them away."

    After Pat's service the funeral director gave me the remembrance book with all the signatures in it. On the back cover was this quote:

    One must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day has been.
    — Sophocles

    I thought about that for a while. Next day, I got out some parchment paper, printed it in 24-point Lucida Handwriting, and put it in a nice wood frame which I placed on my dresser.

    Two years later I married Biddy. She asked me one day, "Why do you have that saying on your dresser. Do you really believe you can only appreciate good things after they're over?"

    "No," I replied, "quite the opposite. I have that on my dresser so I'll see it first thing in the morning, to remind me how wrong it is…so long as we remember."

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