It was a long day, mostly because I developed a mega-migraine, so I went to bed after my day-long meeting, and didn’t get online until this evening. Eventually I thought I ought to check my e-mail, and see what was happening on Facebook. So often, Facebook is filled with kitten memes, political rants, and pictures of culinary accomplishments. Not today, friends, not today.
I logged on and discovered that Ross Reisner, a friend from my summers at Camp Winamac, a friend from my youth, was murdered in his home on Tuesday night. I haven’t seen Ross since 1977, I think, but I never stopped thinking of him as my friend.
Now, Ross was allegedly shot by a disturbed man who had been renting a room from him. Ross apparently had a restraining order against him, because the man had, it seems, attacked him with a knife once before. I could go on here about easy access to guns. I could go on about how we still stigmatize mental illness, how we don’t provide enough or adequate access to care. I could go on about how we think restraining orders will help people but they’re really just an illusion. I could go on about those things, but that’s not what this post is about. This is about grief and loss.
So first I need to tell you about Camp Winamac and how magical and wonderful that place was. It was a horsebackriding camp in Bennington, NH. It wasn’t the most expensive camp. It was just the best one. At least, it was the best one for me, and for so many other Winamacers.
There were rich kids, and poor kids and plenty of in-between kids. And none of that mattered there. If you wanted, you could be part of the stable crew. That meant getting up at a quarter-to-six (which sounds better than 5:45) to muck out the stalls and feed the horses, and it meant getting a special horse assigned to you for the summer. This wasn’t the horse that you got to ride all the time, but it was the horse that you were responsible for. Well, I wanted. And Ross wanted. We were both part of the stable crew. My horse was Inky. Ross’s horse was a large pony named Muffin.
Ross adored Muffin. OK, to be fair, we all adored our respective horses. We would sometimes gently rib Ross about Muffin, because Muffin was such a good pony. Muffin was the pony everyone wanted to ride – well-behaved, responsive, comfortable. What’s not to like? Come to think of it, they were a pretty good match. I mean, I can’t recall Ross ever really getting ruffled by anyone. He was just good-natured and kind to everyone.
A friend posted a picture of the stable crew from maybe 1974 or 1975 on Facebook. Ross is standing right next to me, smiling, so happy to be there. Well, we all were. Happy to be there. We weren’t all smiling all the time. But I only remember Ross smiling.
Of course, it doesn’t matter that he was kind, happy, likable. I mean, it matters to me, but he was murdered, and in that sense it really doesn’t matter how good or not good he was. No one should be murdered.
And for me, now, right now, it just tears out a page of my childhood at a time when I’ve been relying heavily on those pages.
I know this isn’t my particular and private loss. Ross had a life partner of 25 years, and I grieve for him, too. I know now what it is to lose a partner. It’s just that there’s been so much loss – in and around my life – in just the last few months.
It’s a bit like if you trip and you try to get your footing again, but much of what you grab hold of is crumbling under your hands and feet. I’m very sad. I’m sad for myself, for my friends from camp, and certainly for Ross’s family.
I mourn all the losses in my life. So much is disappearing so quickly. I’ve always understood that we never know how much time we have. I just feel like I can’t even catch my breath.
The Lord and I, I think we need to have a little talk. I want my friends and family to be safe. But then, ultimately, that’s the whole world, isn’t it? I want to know that the Lord weeps with me. That would be something, Lord, if I know you’re weeping with me. With us. Oh, and, when you have a moment, if you could cut us a break, that would be great.
That’s it, it’s all I’ve got.
- Ross Reisner Killed By Gunshot Through Window (privateinvesigations.blogspot.com)