July 7 was the anniversary of the unexpected death of a good friend. Larry was killed in his bed by an enormous tree that fell on his cottage during a severe storm. Some will say “it was his time.” I’ve never much cared for that sentiment. I bet if Larry had had anything to say about it, he would have wanted more time. Time is a gift that is always with us and yet is one we seldom notice.
Last week I had the good fortune to see Hamilton in New York. I prepared for the experience by listening to the music, reading the libretto and Lin Manuel Miranda’s comments on what inspired him, how long each passage took to write, and how it changed over time. It took six years for him to write Hamilton but Miranda is a young guy and he had plenty of time. Would Larry have had six more years?
The press of time and what remains after our time has come are recurring themes in Hamilton. I hear the songs in my head all the time now: “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” “And when you’re gone, who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame?”
I remember my great aunts telling family stories at our annual camping trips when I was a kid. I sat with my mother and her cousins, listening to Aunt Isabelle and Aunt Frances tell stories about their brother—my grandfather–and bits and pieces of family trivia, all designed to make us laugh.
The hole in Larry’s house has been repaired; the hole in the hearts of his family and friends has not and never will be. When they are together, as they are this weekend, they are sad that he isn’t with them and also able to remember his assorted foibles and have a good laugh. They are telling his story.