01 August 2008

Exeunt omnes

Two years ago I aligned myself with a General Contractor named David Hyde. Over the course of two years, David and I did some great work together. We made a fantastic team and our clients loved us. I drew fantastical pictures and he turned them into real places. I can dream up great designs all day long, but they only count if someone buys them and someone else builds them. For the last two years the someone else who built them was David Hyde. David was a professional, conscientious contractor and he was also my friend.

In a phone call that seems never to have really happened, I found out on Wednesday morning that my friend David Hyde had died a couple of hours earlier. That news is still pounding with a dull throb inside of my skull, almost as if I'd been punched in the head.

David was a year older than I am. Who thinks that a 44-year-old man is going to die suddenly and without a warning? I spoke with him hours before he died and we talked about the work we had planned for the next couple of months. We laid plans in blissful ignorance that Damocles' sword was hanging over his head. I loved that man like a brother and now he's gone. My deepest sympathies go out to his wife and their daughter. Their loss towers over mine and I cannot imagine what it must be like to lose a husband and father. It's a strange and overwhelming thing to run headlong into that Ultimate Reality like this.

Suddenly, making sure Mrs. Parker stays happy and that we get the Nicklaus lighting done by next week doesn't quite seem so important as it did a couple of days ago. Shocking though it is, having the Grim Reaper brush past me has had me putting things into perspective with a renewed rigor. In a lot of ways though, I'd have preferred to keep David around and my priorities skewed. But I guess that option's not on the table.

David was everything I'm not. By that I mean he was a suburban, mega-church attending, evangelical with a Jesus fish on his business card. I read the New York Times every day and give money to the ACLU. Forging a working relationship required that each of us put aside the rhetoric we heard from the talking heads on our respective sides of the supposed culture war that's going on in our country. With our ideological differences acknowledged and set aside, we could concentrate on what we had in common. What a concept! That we set aside that crap and saw one another as individuals rather than as our demographic profiles was an opportunity for me, and for him, to let go of the identity politics that is such an easy trap to fall into. Blue states and red states don't really exist you know, and political polarization is an all too effective tool used to win elections. However, it's a lousy way to live your life and shameful way to choose whom to trust. You can only believe that a dreaded Other is your enemy when you can't see his face. I believe that and I know it from first hand experience. I didn't think like that two years ago but I sure do now. So I got to become a better man while at the same time working on a better portfolio. Amazing.

I'm going to move forward, albeit slowly. Everybody will, it's what happens after somebody dies. But a part of me is going to stay right here for a while. So goodbye David my friend, and thanks. I'll take it from here.


  1. Paul, I missed this post. I am so very sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. You have sung his praises many times when reviewing your projects on your blog. A great friend leaves a huge hole in your life, especially when you are not prepared for their loss. Thinking of you, and sending prayers for you and for his family.

  2. This post is two years old already and the loss still feels fresh. Thanks for finding this. I think of David all the time. I can't look through my portfolio and not think of him. I miss him sorely and two years down the road there's still a big hole left to fill. The impact that man had on my life can't be measured.


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