Paul, beloved friend,
Are you there?
Can you hear me, can you hear or feel or know the love I send?
Three weeks, four, have passed without a letter from my friend.
My friend kept me informed: he told me of the tribe of cats who lived in his caritas, his agape, his lovingkindness. He called each of them by name.
My friend wrote of the roadrunner (likewise given a name; he kept me apprised of the rattlesnakes that swarmed in his wilderness places, as well as of the evangelist rattlesnakes on tv, and of the rattlesnakes who called by phone to extort from him in the name of righteousness.
My friend wrote of his work in the rivers of venereal pus that flowed among his captive patients in WWII. He wrote of aviation, of the sober joys and disciplines of flight. He wrote of his instructor, one Pemberton, whose memory and example he cherished.
My friend taught this doctor, a long generation younger than he, much of the medicine that had escaped him in his undergraduate days, and that eluded him until the happy day that Paul strode into his life and became a preceptor.
My friend wrote of prayer, of his habitation in the house of prayer.
My friend wrote on his bended knees as he prayed for his fracturing nation.
My friend sent me funny stories, he sent me risque stories, he sent me the news from the frontiers of science, and he sent me the news of tabloid headline that were of little science.These he derided with fine despatch.
My friend wrote often of the good people he had known, people who have long passed but whose good name and memory he kept alive with his remarkable recall and his great respect.
My friend wrote of Beverley who was the light of his life and the fire of his loins. He revered her, he missed and he yearned for her perpetually. Of her he wrote, ‘Great was the joy in heaven when she entered that kingdom’.
My friend’s body was wearying, wearing out, but his mind remained scythe-sharp.
My friend, his integrity unbending, was weakened by the cheating and the chicanery of the mendicants who plagued him. I felt Paul’s righteous being was affronted and his spirit distressed by these cheats.
My friend had standards and he never wavered.
My friend loved the human frame, the creation whose anatomy and parts he new so well. He saw in that frame the work of his Creator.
My friend wrote only weeks ago to report evidence of brain function persisting AFTER death. What did he think of that? What now, stricken mute by stroke, does Paul think?
How are the mighty fallen.
My friend wrote to me with love. He wrote and he told me he was ready.
I am not ready.
Who, of Paul’s eighty faithful readers, can be ready?
Paul, I know nought of those awaiting your arrival above, but here on earth, great will the weeping if you leave us.
Paul, can you hear me?
Do you know our love?