I Remember Michael Von Kieckebusch, Friend

In early September I received the news of the passing of Michael Von Kieckebusch, a beautiful Human Being, a friend. In the moment I heard about it from his son, John, I had no thought or feeling, just a numb silence that for an instant allowed me to receive and adjust to the impact of the news. I was hit by a new reality. I now had to shift with it.

I went to my living room, sat down, and cried. Solomon was nearby so I went upstairs to my room to grieve and pray. When I knelt  on the floor to pray, resting my arms on the bed, a wave of comfort and calm came over me as I whispered Michael’s name.  My crying and grief ended immediately. I had none of the sadness or sense of loss that accompanied me to the room.

The thought of Michael, who he was and still is, could not go on upheld in grief and tears. Grief did not align with how I saw him. I never associated him with pain or anything coming close to it. Michael was never that for me.

Michael Von K (I always liked the shortened Von K) represented the traits I admire most in Humans – grace, honesty, humility, humor. He’s been a redeeming force in my life the way we all can be for one another. Without realizing it Michael and his family helped lift me out of cynicism and resignation, default ways of being for many. It was easy for me to fall into fear, complaining, and judgment about the reported, modern world and its people. In their easy, warm way the Von K’s embodied the gracious spirit indicative of an evolved life that learns its lessons well.

The days I spent with Michael and his family produce no singular memory that I could say is typical of how I experienced them. Instead, I rode a wave of constant mutual affection and goodwill with them, and like the ocean that Michael loved to frequent, there was only the constant flow of buoyant aliveness and good feelings.

I remember visiting their home regularly, sitting, talking, listening, sharing, laughing, wondering at life and people, ourselves especially, and lingering as long as I could before returning home to my family. I loved listening to Michael and Judith tell their stories of memories, travels, and yearnings. I savored every moment with them,  aware of how special it was to be with them and of how rare and precious to experience such kinship of heart and spirit.

In the summer of 2010, about 9 or 10 years after the last time I saw them in Missouri before they moved to Florida, I saw the Von K’s in Vermont. Caroline was eager to meet them because I had spoken so highly and so often of them that she was a bit skeptical. I think she knows about my fondness for exaggeration. Anyway, she met them and was blown away. They exceeded her expectations which I already had built up pretty high. She recently thanked me for introducing her to the Von K’s. I thought to myself, They’re just like that – their presence can make you feel thankful for being alive and for having met people like them.

In light of what a great man Michael is (I cannot bring myself to writing was), I struggle to understand how such a vibrant, enlightened soul could leave this life so early. Only in his 60’s, his bright light is needed on Earth, I thought, as a return to balance when this world’s insanity weighs so heavily and within it are people whose presence seemingly only brings shadows.

But then, life is not a riddle or a puzzle waiting to be figured out. Life is a river of sameness in which swirling eddies of irony and mystery have their place.

Life brought me and the Von K’s together under the ordinary circumstance of being neighbors in Missouri, and like the seedling that breaks through the surface of spring-softened earth in such an unassuming form, that ordinary occurrence of meeting the Von K’s, and the friendship it birthed, brought with it all of the splendor of extraordinary, fruitful life.

Michael is now one of my guiding stars. Shine on, Michael Von Kieckebusch, beautiful friend, beautiful soul.

I Remember Michael Von Kieckebusch

Of your passing,
when I heard
my first ever tear
fell from the thought of you,
fell from my heaving grief
from feeling and seeing you
only in memory now.

Still you are here,
right here,
as I recall and review our times
and sound your name
with thanks
for beautiful you,
and for my moments
in the embrace of those hours
with gleaming laughs on breezy good days
while Missouri skies witnessed
and gave thanks to the earth for yielding us,
and for the worlds we were
and the stories we told
in love of soul and home.

I remember for you
the seas are sanctuaries
(are – because you still live, I know)
their buoyancy upholding
you in serenity ‘n solitude
from wave to wave,
and trough to trough;
I remember hearing also of
your mornings spent
walking by the sea
the theater and marrow of life.

I remember the savor of family
and how sweet it rises in yours
(so much so that your praise
I sang and sing
through smiling recollections
with others whose hearts echo
the one we share);
I’d linger, never wanting to go,
wanting to hear more
from you and Judith
of the scenes of your lives
and to be so warmly held
as I was in the Von K home.

I remember sharing with you
of paths wherein
we walked, on our own journeys,
in our hearts with the truth
we imagined, believed, and loved;
and of how our seeing evolved
question by question,
discovery to discovery.

I remember for me
the reciprocation of love
and feeling my deliciously human self
when sharing with you and Judith
of the faith and folly of my life.

So I send you,
beautiful man, beautiful friend,
an offering of thanks
for consoling me
today as I cried and prayed,
for not allowing me
to continue in mourning
over the first tear
I’ve ever shed for you.

2 responses to “I Remember Michael Von Kieckebusch, Friend

  1. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend and admire your acceptance of it. The Von K’s sound like good people. You’re lucky to have them in your life. The poem moved me deeply primo.


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