Digby Henry was neither a companion of my childhood nor a long-time personal or professional acquaintance. I met him only four years ago when I joined the Bear Canyon Writing Class. My first reaction to him was…he’s a foreigner. My second was…he’s got his name roundabout. Shouldn’t he be Henry Digby? Yes to the first; no to the second. Digby still retained the charming Irish brogue he brought from the Mother Country years ago, although he was a proud naturalized citizen of the United States. But according to him, there was no mistake on his birth certificate. His family name was Henry.
Digby was clearly a poet. Not just because he wrote poetry, but because he had the soul of a poet (even though he wrote prose equally as well). His wit could be sharp and pointed or enigmatic and gentle. He wrote as he spoke, softly and in all shades of the rainbow, heavily laced with humor. Plainspoken at times, yet making you probe for his meaning at others. He loved to experiment with words, with grammar, with sentence structures. I know he was a poet because I had to struggle to understand his writing. I’m so pedestrian that if I comprehend a poem on the first reading, it must not be poetry.
Part of the shock of his loss was its sudden nature. Connie, his wife, said that he was in pain on Monday, but they could determine no cause (and they were both health care professionals). It continued to increase to the point where she took him to the emergency room at Presbyterian Hospital at eleven that night. The doctors diagnosed him with MRSA, the “flesh eating” bacteria (although the exact culprit has not yet been identified), and by one-thirty Tuesday, he had passed. Twenty-four hours…and he was gone.
Gone. Missed. Mourned. Honored. God bless, Digby Henry. I know the Good Lord will appreciate the endless hours of laughter you’ll give Him. That may be why He took you so quickly.
If I know Digby, at this point his eyes would twinkle and he would say, "Lighten up. Celebrate me, not mourn me." And so we shall. Even so, deepest sympathy to Connie and the rest of Digby's family.
Next week: I never know what it will be…until it happens.
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