Christmas Fog Brig Tasha Alan 2015

Alan MacIlroy and Tasha O’Neill birding foggy Brigantine on Christmas 2015

The news we always knew, but never believed, slashes out of morning, startling and impossible as thunder snow.

Although creativity is the heart of the matter in the home Alan MacIlroy has left for our true home, — neither words nor images come to my summons, as mourning descends upon me.

My dearest Tasha is widowed anew.  Alan’s ruddy car sits in their driveway with its subtle license reminding us of his priority:  TH JRNY.   Now he has embarked on the universal journey.

Over more years than I can tally, Tasha and Alan and I have shared priceless rituals, from fireside lobster in Maine to Christmas picnics at Brigantine Wildlife Refuge.

The day of our foggy Christmas feast, a peregrine falcon had stationed itself upon a speed limit sign — “15 mph” — just beyond the Brig’s northeast corner turn.  My camera does not do justice to this monarch holding court for a rosary of reverent automobiles immobilized upon the dike road.  Alan, Tasha and I quietly slid out of his Christmasy car to stand in silence, worshiping.

After a significant interval, Alan announced, “Let’s not go over to Scott’s Landing for our Christmas dinner.  How could we leave the peregrine?”

Only as I type this, do I realize, the word peregrine means wanderer.

Alan is the consummate mentor.  “Mr. Fix-It.”  Every problem solved, especially in advance, especially for his cherished Kingston church, and local businessmen and women.  Each wooded trail at their Maine home maintained.  Every lobster boat observed upon stormy or tranquil bay.  Each wood fire, kindled on a cooling summer’s night.  His dazzling, impeccable TR 4, shining on the driveway, ready for a jaunt.  He is each woodworking project magnificently accomplished, including caning two chairs for me, burnishing the Provencal olive wood cutting board that had dimmed since I lived there.  Grace, gentleness, generosity.   Smiles and that quiet voice we will no longer hear.  Alan was the essence of tranquility.  Alan is love.

His quietly merry  spirit will be with us on every future excursion. Yet the glow of that luminous man has become memory.

Mary Elizabeth’s crystalline phrases echo as I find myself bereft of words.  May her inspiration be with NJWILDBEAUTY readers  — in this dire era, –in which too many days begin with yet another cancer call:

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.


I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;


I am not there. I did not die.



Brigantine Christmas PIcnic 2015

Tasha Prepares our 2015 Christmas Feast


“How can we leave the peregrine?”     Now, our wanderer has left us…

Territorial Peregrine Brigantine Christmas 2015

14 thoughts on “WHEN A DEAR FRIEND DIES — for Alan

  1. Carolyn, you have written a beautiful poem for your close friend. It is so true. I am very sorry for your loss and for Tasha. My heart is sad for all of you. Praying that you find comfort in the knowledge that you will meet again one day and that he left a very special spirit for all those he loved and cared for.

  2. Mary Elizabeth Frye, all too often considered ‘Anonymous’, wrote that poem — no other comes to me, despite a lifetime of reading poetry by day and by night since toddlerhood, Angela. Thank you for your empathy for me, for us, and for savoring this tragedy with me — seeing it in perspective. I must remember, heaven surpasses even MAINE! Appreciatively, c

    • Ellen, I thank you for your kind words in this time of wounding. Balm. Salve. There’s even a sense of a flowery essence, which Alan himself would want to surround Tasha and his girls and me, as we try to adjust to a world without him. I came so very near to giving up the blog, in the wake of November developments in our land, our world. A feeling of being a boy with is finger in the dike, at best — “and to what end, and to what end…?” Today is teaching me. You are teaching me. Appreciatively, Carolyn

    • Joyce, thank you for reaching out. I am amazed at the level of shock and yes mourning that Alan’s departure leaves with me. I know perfectly well that he is spared the dire suffering and is in our true home. And yet, and yet… how can there be life without Alan? Your empathy soothes this feeling of being so bruised by absence. Blessings and gratitudes, c

  3. Carolyn, I am aware of how very dear Alan was to you and that both he and Tasha shared their Journey with you in the most meaningful ways. It was a reciprocal sharing and that is what made it so very special. Now the essence of those shared experiences will carry over to the new ones you and Tasha will create. I can only smile at the memory of the Valentine montage Tasha created for Alan this year. What a cherished life he had.

    • Debbie, thank you for reminding me of the Valentine’s Day collage. Yes, Alan was cherished, because that was h is mission on earth — to cherish, to facilitate. I didn’t write about his puns — no punster will equal let alone top our Alan. Blessings to you, always, c

  4. O, Tasha, that you would HAVE time, would TAKE time, to thank me?!! When it is I who thank YOU for bringing me, first YOU, then Alan. It feels to me that Alan’s love of the world and those he met and knew and cherished is so enormous that it cannot fade! Blessings and so much love, c

  5. Dear Carolyn,
    I am so sorry for your loss and offer my sincere condolences.
    I know your beautiful words for your dear friend will find their way to you when it is time to remember his special joy.
    With sympathy,

  6. Dear Lisa, Thank you for your empathy, a balm on this first full day of knowing Alan is no longer on this earth… At my best, I know this is best for Alan. But, we humans can quail, as the loss yawns like a canyon before us. You’ll help me stay in the loftiness that is essential. Appreciatively, Carolyn

  7. We are so sorry to hear about Tasha’s husband. We will keep her in our prayers.
    Cliff and Brenda

  8. Of course, you and Cliff would resonate to this loss, Brenda. Dear of you to comment, and I will convey to Tasha. She is doing so very well — deep spirituality is the core of Tasha and of Alan. I know she appreciates the light and grace you send to her at this time. Blessings to both of you. c

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