A family member and friend of mine died just before Christmas, and I’m still reeling from the loss. Ev was one of my favorite people in the world. He was kind, generous, thoughtful, and strong. He was smart, funny, and interested, always fun to talk to. He was a great model for me of a good way to be a man and have a family, and to live with integrity. When I think about how good and uncomplicated our relationship was, I can’t help imagine that he was like that with everyone. I imagine that everyone who came into contact with him benefited like I did. Losing him seems straightforwardly a loss for us all.

Something else I keep thinking is that I am lucky to have known Ev well enough to feel this much grief. It didn’t have to be that way. He lived in very-northern California, far enough away that I might easily have seen him only at occasional Thanksgiving dinners. He also lived near a part of the I-5 that I drove by several times a year, most years. He and his family made it abundantly clear that I was wanted there, any time I was passing through. I always had a place to stay, a meal, and good conversation waiting. So I saw him several times a year and was able to connect with him that often. Lucky for me.

There is a way that you are born and marry into family, but in another very real way, you make your family. Who do you spend time with? Who do you keep up with? Who do you care about and for? That is your family.

I am so glad that Ev and I made each other family.

Ev, in flannel, goofing around with family, at home, after a ferocious snowball fight and enthusiastic snowman-building, 2010.

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