Sunday, March 18, 2012

"As If We Were Each His Closest Confidant, Friend, or Some Guy Sitting Beside Him at The Bar ..."

I've spent a good chunk of the past 11 days reading. Reading, commenting and reminiscing. Crying, toasting and hurting. And, yes, occasionally (but all too rarely), laughing.

And now, here I sit.

And although I think, like so many others, that Lex might well be wondering what the hell is wrong with all of us, I continue to struggle with the same question that so many others have attempted to answer over the past week and a half. So much ink spilled. So many pixels wasted. Because so many of us continue to ask ourselves the same question.

Why/how did this man effect me so?

I've read many a thought on that question and must confess to having gained some insight from them.

And although it would seem reasonable to speculate that the answer might well vary from person to person (as just a paltry few examples: he was such an excellent writer, always the consummate gentleman, a brother aviator or a brother in arms, a mentor, a warrior poet, a true patriot [Ed. - completely without the negative connotation that sometimes attaches to those words of late], he led by example, he was the type of Officer I would follow anywhere, he could have me repeatedly alternating between laughing and crying in the same post, his blog was a place where everyone [with the exception of trolls, of course] truly felt welcomed), I'm not sure that any or even all of those things truly encapsulate the man.

Yes, undoubtedly, he was all those things. And yet, he was so much more.

Strangely enough, the words that rang the truest for me, that came the closest to summing up why the man effected me on such a personal level, I found buried in AW1Tim's memorial:
In Lex’s blog, his stories, his observations, you got the feeling, reading them, that he wasn’t so much reporting but having a conversation with you.


Whether it was personal demons, family or job issues, the loss of a friend, or any of the myriad things that accost us all, he would write of them, openly and honestly, as if we were each his closest confidant, friend, or some guy sitting beside him at the bar. He was like that, and he was wonderful with what he did.
That, right there, comes the closest in anything I have read or yet considered to mirroring my own personal reality.

Yes, the man was an amazing writer - as I pointed out to him as soon as I finished reading Rhythms (on the first go-around), he had somehow managed to completely hook someone like me, someone with no military background or experience. Hooked me with Rhythms. Hooked me on the blog. And thinking about it sadly now, it would, of course, have been his writing that drew all so many of us in. And, yes, on some level, it was his writing that drew us back time and time again.

But that doesn't explain the effect, the reaction, the outpouring of grief that his death has caused. Sadness that a good man, a good writer is no longer with us? Sure. Regret that Neptunus Lex will no longer be part of the daily read? Absolutely.

But not this, not this “... [feeling] like something essential had been suddenly hollowed out of me, something I had always counted on for strength without even knowing it was there.” As Lex well knew, that's a feeling saved for the loss of a parent, a child, a sibling, a spouse or a best friend. Not a blogger the majority of us have never met.

I have finally concluded that it was because of the way that Lex wrote, the manner in which he shared his personal demons, family and job issues, his sea stories, his best job evah, the worst day of his life and the myriad other things he wrote about that we were allowed to get a look behind the blogger and come to know the man behind the words. That was how we each discovered for ourselves that he was the consummate gentleman and a true patriot, how we came to realize just how much he loved his family, his country and his Navy, how we learned that he led by example and was the type of Officer people would follow anywhere and why we came to admire, respect and rely on him the way we have.

I have many friends. I admire many people. But of all the people that have entered and left my life, there have only been two that I can say I totally, completely and utterly respect. Lex was one of them. And I have yet to meet any other person (either virtually or real life) who had has the ability to connect so intimately with another through the written word alone. Something tells me, I likely never will.

And yet, to paraphrase George Patton (and with thanks to one of Lex's many fellow milbloggers, without whom I never would have thought of this quote), it's also the reason that we should must struggle not to mourn the fact that he is gone but, rather, celebrate the fact that such a man has lived.


Kris, in New England said...

His impact on each of us is as unique as our own fingerprints.

Beautifully written Michelle. Lex's imprint on our lives will be felt for a very long time, possibly as long as each of us is alive.

He let us see the interior man; showed us a bit of his thigh :-) and allowed us into his mind, his heart, his world.

He never kept us at arm's length - ever.

Stephen said...

Same thing here. For ove two weeks I've been alternately heartbroken and then wondering why it hurts so bad grieving for someone I never met. Reading your words was like listening to a powerful testimony. I liked it.

Stephen said...


MMC said...

Kris, he showed a litte bit of thigh ... damm, why didn't I think of that? It would have fit perfectly in that post.

Stephen, I'm glad it reasonated with you. And happy to see you stop by. Now, the question is, how well will I keep up the blogging...

Homefront Six said...

Perfectly said. I like the "showed a bit of thigh" because that's so true! And Kayren was right in that he left us feeling like we had just had a coffee (or beer) together. Very few people leave you with that feeling in real life, let alone on a blog.

He was very special. And we won't see his likes for a long, long time. We were blessed.

John said...

Amen to all of the above! I wish I could expess these feelings as wel as others have, but I know that we are sharing exactly the same sense of loss, but also of joy for having been made better by a man most never met.