Dear Bill (I never knew you as Billy),
Along with everyone else, I was shocked to hear that you had left us so suddenly. You didn’t even have time to say good-bye. The first question I asked myself was when did I see you last. Then I remembered that it was at the Colm Toibin event. It was very crowded there but you made your way to me to say “hello”. I never knew you well, but a few things will stand out about you in my mind. To me, you cut such an impressive figure. You were tall, well-built and always impeccably groomed. You also possessed a kind of quiet dignity. Such things impress women like me. Finally, you were always gracious toward me (I expect that the children of my friends will be polite, but I don’t expect more). You always gave more. You seemed genuinely interested in talking to me. The other thing that I won’t forget is that you kissed my hand! Who taught you to do that? That is a practice that has, unfortunately, long since disappeared from social life. In a phrase, you were a gentleman in every sense of the word.
What did we talk about that night? A few fragments come to mind. I asked about you and your siblings, since I don’t see any of you that often. You told me that you had left WIRED and, I believe, were doing free-lance journalism. I am sorry that I don’t think that I ever read one of your pieces. Maybe your parents will give me one.
I mentioned that your parents had told me the story of how they met in
Then you said that your mother spoke English with a British accent. I told you that I had been living in
About this time, we drifted apart to talk to other friends who had attended the event. In retrospect, ours seemed like such a simple conversation – an exchange of pleasantries – the kind of talk we all have with many people. It was only after you left us that I realized that it would be our last. I think that the Germans and the French have it right when they wish their friends “Aufwiedersehen” and “Au Revoir” – until we see each other again. That idea gives me more comfort.