One Candle


“One candle loses nothing in lighting another.”

Once, I had a real life.  And in that real life, there were things like hobbies and people and work and pets and yards and cars and lawn mowers and gardening tools and garages and sawdust.  There were happy things, aggravating things and sad things.  There were things to laugh about and be angry over.

With the hobby came friendships.  Friendships I wouldn’t have otherwise known.  I didn’t know as much as I wanted to about the hobby, but I knew I loved it and for the most part, the people involved in it.  As with anything else, a few of them drove me to distraction, out of my mind with rage, but I also met some of the warmest and most caring people I’ve never seen in it also.

There was Tim, who called himself Willow, thinking he was a flimsy and wispy fellow.  But Tim’s a genius, a tender heart and a close, loving friend.  He opened to me as I opened to him, and I know this man is a part of my heart.  And through getting to know Tim, I met another very special person.  He went by the handle “Limey” — he was British and proud of it, and lived here in the US and would not return.  Limey had a dry British wit and a wickedly sharp mind, and he was a master craftsman who forever challenged younger and less experienced people to reach for more, stretch farther, try something they’ve not tried before.  You can do it, he’d encourage us; and I’ll be here to help if you need it.

Email and forum exchanges can’t tell you enough about a man.  Electronic communication can’t begin to provide the depth of field someone offers.  One day, however, when I spoke to Tim on the phone, Limey stood beside him.  And he and I chatted.

I’ve never been the same man.  The opening line of this post is what Limey used as his signature line on emails and forum posts, and it sums the man up to a tee.  Tim knew him much better than I, and said this wasn’t just his mantra for his hobby, but the way he lived his life.

Limey and I didn’t exchange a lot of communication.  A few emails, a couple of forum discussions, and just the one phone conversation.  He loved Falcon.  He called her a “tigress” because of the way she rallied to my defense over some jerk on the forum.  He always had such high praise for her.  He liked to challenge me to grow whether I wanted to or not.  He was always there to push me.  I remember being angry with him briefly because he told me something wherein I felt he expected too much of me.  I later realized I was being stupid and didn’t understand the great thing he tried to do for me.  I reconciled to him and then, shortly thereafter, my world came crashing around my ears.

For a time, I kept up with them through the forum and email.  Limey tried to mentor me as best he could, but I couldn’t keep the emails up.  Life and other forces intervened, and my own lack of determination made me slink away into Internet obscurity.

I lost touch with Limey after that.  I managed to scape back in touch with Tim briefly, but I’m a poor friend where correspondence is concerned and I once again fell off the face of their earth.

Yesterday, I cleaned up the kids’s computer, and while I did so I found an old bookmark to the forum where I’d met Limey.  I looked up Tim and noticed something in his signature line which startled me.  I did a quick forum search and found something which slammed me, hammered my day, my heart, my soul.

Limey passed away on December 2, 2007.  I don’t know how or why, but it doesn’t matter.

And I realized how much my bad habits cost me.  I don’t know if I’d have felt that way if it had been someone genetically tied to me.  But I felt a heartsick, punch-in-the-gut hurt and spilled a few tears.  Because of my laziness, not taking the opportunities I had when they were there, I missed the passing — by almost two years — of one of the greatest men I’ve ever met.  A genuine human, a great person, and a gentleman slipped into the night and I wasn’t there to acknowledge his passing.

That candle will never again light another.  But the world is bright with the light of those he did ignite.  I don’t deserve the privilege of calling Limey my friend, but I can say, without doubt or hesitation, I’ve never met a finer gentleman and a finer person, so willing to give out what he had inside, to share of himself, for nothing other than the joy of that giving, expecting nothing in return.

No, I’ll never be the same because of Limey.  I don’t deserve the privilege of calling him my friend; I didn’t know him well enough.  But in retrospect, how could I ever have known such a one well enough?  He was a friend to me, and to many others.

Rest in peace, sweet prince.  Many candles did you light with yours, and nothing did you lose in so doing.  It is we who have lost with your passing.



13 thoughts on “One Candle

  1. What a shock. I’m sorry he’s gone, dear, but it’s good you knew him.

    Yes, it is, and I sent Tim an email. He answered me this morning. I’m going to try and do better with friends, but my circumstances make it a bear.

    It’s funny how my post today sort of mirrors yours, losing touch with old friends, being bad at friendship, life getting in the way.

    It really only settles in fully when something sad like this happens, doesn’t it?

    • You know, you can’t feel guilty about letting people go. There’s no possible way to keep in our lives every single person who touched us. That’s the way life is, so I hope you’re not being hard on yourself.

      No, I don’t think so. I regret what happened but I also couldn’t help all of it. And I recognize my inbox wasn’t ablaze with emails from him either. I just know I could’ve done more and didn’t. But it does take two, and I fell off the earth for all of them too. Just … life, happening. 🙂

  2. I feel you grieve and hear your pain. Life is sadly short, all we have is what we make of it. And guilt of letting our lives get so crazy we lose track of those that come into them. But pause and remember the good he brought to you and be thankful that you had the opportunity to know him however briefly. We all have busy lives, some more than others. Share the light of your candle while you are here, for once you are gone, others can carry on your flame.

    Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.-Buddhist Quote

    Thanks, Beth.

  3. When I first started blogging I found a wonderful, gentle soul that was way beyond my scope as a blogger but he enjoyed my humorous posts and I enjoyed the intellectual content of his blog and the issues he discussed which made me think. Prakash never let on that he was seriously ill with COPD and was mostly bedridden. He and I conversed daily through both our blogs and emails and even though we never got to met in person or even talk to one another, we remained fast friends until he passed away. His son later told me that our internet friendship helped him through the end of his life.

    Our time together was oh so short but I will never forget my lovely friend and I miss him terribly.

    If you care to read about it here is the link:

    I understand your pain and loss.

    Thanks, Delaney. I really appreciate the link and the empathy. It was a shock, for sure, but I’ll never forget him. Never.

  4. Knyt

    Its sad when we meet people that have such a great impact and lose them too early. You are a great friend for letting everyone else in on your friendship with Limey..Good on ya..this is why you are a great friend, great parent and an inspiration keep up the good work..zman admires and sends

    Thanks, Zman. I appreciate the kindness.

  5. I’m sorry to hear about your friend. Friendships don’t depend on length or physicality to be real.

    No, I suppose they don’t. Thank you for your sympathy, I appreciate it. I just wish I hadn’t been a year and a half removed from his death.

  6. Awww. I must admit I’m a poor friend when it comes to staying in touch. Don’t beat yourself up over this. Things happen that we can’t control.

    My dad and I were estranged for years and my plan was, after the kids were out of the house, I’d go spend a month in Oklahoma with him and we’d work on the father/daughter thing without other diversions.

    As I was driving to Laramie last week to move my son out, I realized this was supposed to be the fall I spent in Oklahoma. My dad died 3 years ago & I never got the chance to do the father/daughter thing. It made me sad, but sometimes life passes us by.

    No matter how we try, the clock only moves one direction. It’s aggravating but the horrible aspect of the future is, it keeps on turning into the past.

  7. I’m so sorry, Darc. Please don’t beat yourself up, though. It sounds like your friend knew you well even though you never “met.” I’m sure he knew your absence wasn’t personal, and by feeling guilty you are not giving him that credit. What a tribute you have just given to him–you have allowed him to light the candles of people he never met by sharing his story with us. *HUG* Thank you.

    You’re so wonderful and sweet, Calliope. Thank YOU. *hug* I’m not really beating myself up, but I do feel sad and a little hurt that I couldn’t take just a few minutes every week or so to say hello to him while I could’ve.

  8. Hmmm. Wonder which tragic quotient is higher: the friends you neglect, or the friends you chase away?

    Both are sad indeed Dwight. Have I chased you away somehow? Last person I chased away was someone who didn’t like what I had to say about the election last year, that I know of. Before that, it was someone who demanded I accept her manipulating, semi-abusive friend or else; I chose “else”. Hope I’ve not missed hurting your feelings somehow. If I did, I apologize, sincerely. I definitely didn’t mean to do it, and wasn’t aware of it.

  9. You are here to acknowledge his passing now and to light more candles in his honor. I know you help this one burn brighter.

    Thanks, Jaymie. I’m glad to know you’ve found something from me in return for your beautiful (and sometimes steamy!) poems. I thought that was strictly a one-way benefit on my part. I’m happy you feel you receive something back from me for them.

  10. It is sad whenever we let something of value go, but perhaps it is also a wonder that you had that thing of value at all–however brief the time. There are so many questions I never got to ask my mother, but I try to stay focused on what we had and the questions I did get answers to. I’m certain she’d want it that way. And your friend probably would to.

    As the kind of man he was, I’m sure of it.

    Sorry for your loss though. When someone leaves us, I don’t think we ever feel there was time or appreciation enough.

    Very, very true. Thank you.

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