Yesterday was my friend Murray's birthday. I'm not exactly how old he would have been - 60-something, I guess - if cancer had not taken his life just before Thanksgiving 2011.
I first encountered Murray on a history-based Internet message board when we started a discussion about the history of the violin chin rest. Conclusion: even though it had been developed in the 1830s, it didn't become common until after the Civil War, so not using one would be more accurate in historical settings. We had many subsequent discussions about historical music, reenacting, and so on. Finally he made it to Nashville from Arkansas, and we actually got to play together at a small event in Franklin.
Murray was a sweet, gentle man, and he loved music and history. He was thrilled to land a couple of historical music gigs playing with a band out of west Tennessee and an entertainment troupe from Kentucky/Ohio. Like me, he also struggled with depression, and we talked about that as well from time to time. When the Great Flood of 2010 happened, he called to make sure we were all right.
Not too long after that, he was diagnosed with cancer. I want to say it was his kidneys, but I honestly don't remember. What I do remember is the grace and peace with which he faced this trial. Murray was a man of faith, which he shared often in his own gentle way. He was thoughtful and contemplative in his struggle. He never asked "why me?"
Murray knew his time was limited, but none of us realized it would be so short. Isn't that always the way?
So, happy birthday, Murray. I still think of you all the time and wish I could tell you about my latest musical adventures. I think you would approve.
Till next time --- hug a friend.