This Mortal Life…

Today, when I heard the news that a talented man we had all once worked with in the theatre had passed away un-noticed and was lying, unclaimed in a distant city morgue,

I could only whisper a prayer of gratitude that his mother had gone before and would not see in his lifeless face,

the promise of the carefree child she’d once held close,

the aspirations of a clean cut young man who had earned his masters in piano performance,


in Paris

the hope of the teacher he’d become when he turned his life over to music,

the energy of a kind and generous mentor who’d shared his gifts with the countless many,

the ambition of the friend and colleague rooted in community and performing arts,

the tragedy of her beloved son’s final breath,

taken alone among well meaning strangers, unsure of his identity.

An inexpressible sadness fell upon me and I was forced to contemplate the unpredictability of life.

What do we know?

For my once-upon-a-time friend I know his soul is safe with God,

But my once-upon-a-time friendship did nothing to safeguard his future.

His passing has left me mourning and trying to make sense of how this happened, years after fading from my life, to one once beloved.

How could he die homeless, unknown, an un-identified person in a faceless city morgue.

How could his passing have gone unremarked by so many?

When his remains come home for us all to celebrate his life and remember him,

and he is laid to rest with too many questions unanswered,

a small piece of me will be gutted by the cruelty of this mortal life overshadowing the promise of eternity.

Perhaps, among the remembrances and former friends a ray of hope will pierce the darkness and mend my aching heart.


Gary Okeson Memorial at Granville Performing Art Centre,

June 3rd, 4-6pm.

Rest in Peace Gary and may light perpetual shine upon you.  Amen.

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