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September 6, 2007

Words from Carole Nimlos

I considered Dr. Caron to be the third most important person in my life, my husband and son being the first and second. We were members of the Saturday morning ALZ support group. He helped me through the difficult decision to place my husband in assisted living. He helped me work through the depression, guilt and sorrow. He helped me to enjoy life as a person in my own right after 16 years of being defined in my mind as a caregiver. He was my friend. He will always be in my heart.

Carole Nimlos (Vadnais Heights, MN)

September 2, 2007

Words from Nancy

We didn’t even consider that you would die so early,
Our hearts are broken over the sudden disappearance . . . the loss of you,
Our minds are in shock over the sad reality.
We cry out for you . . . your heart, your smile, your compassion,
If we are quiet and still, will we be able to hear you?
Are there answers in our shared memories?

Nancy (St. Paul, MN)

August 29, 2007

Insights out of Sorrow

I am still not able to comprehend Wayne's death. The deeper it sinks in, the sadder I get. But I found the visitation and funeral service for Wayne to be very healing. The visitation was so crowded that people were spilling out into adjacent rooms. There was no shortage of amazing stories about the many ways in which Wayne touched many individuals' and families' lives. It was good for us all to laugh together. At the funeral service, three things struck me. The priest's sermon focused on the Beatitudes (from the Sermon on the Mount) and on how Wayne's life exemplified the best of them. The measure of a man's life is his love, and not any of the superficial trappings we become so concerned with. Wayne's love was as wide and deep as anyone I know. Second, the priest said in closing that there is a Spanish saying that a person dies 4 times. The first is when his heart and brain stop functioning; the second is after the funeral; the third is after the burial; and the fourth is when people stop speaking of him. We can be assured that Wayne will live on in many, many minds and hearts, and in that sense he will never die. Finally, all these experiences have led me to wonder how much we really know one another. We tend to know each other in the roles in which we interact, but it is the rare event indeed where people from our various non-overlapping social circles come together. It's been wonderful to get to know many more sides of Wayne in the past few days. I wish I had been able to do it earlier.

Hal Grotevant

August 27, 2007

Sad Loss

I have been sad since Friday afternoon. My heart does not believe what my mind cannot deny.

I received word Friday afternoon that one of the professor's in my department, Wayne Caron, died. That is all I know. I looked in the obit page this morning to see what I could learn. His name was listed, but the obit read that information was to bo released, or something like that. All I learned was that he was only 51 years old. Way too young to die.

I had several conversations with Wayne in my first year of doctoral studies. He was humorous, engaging, and was an outside the box thinker. I recall how, when we first met to discuss research, that he said he was not primarily interested in my research interests, although that was important, but that he was interested in me. That kind of thing matters.

I can't believe he's not going to be up there in the department Monday when I return. It all seems fake, like some sort of horribly cruelhumor. My heart does not accept this reality.

I am not sure how to say this next line, so I am going to say it like this: This loss has agitated other losses in my life, roused their pain nearer to the surface. Pain travels in packs - never alone. When one pain bites, they all bite.

Making sense of pain while it is biting is more than difficult. I suppose for most, certainly for me, it is not a realistic goal. Trying to make sense of it, perhaps. But actually making sense? Naw. Sometimes it seems like life is this process of collecting lots of things when you are young and losing them all as you age - with the gain of wisdom as the consolation prize. It's so hard to make sense of loss.

Today, I am sad. I am sad for Wayne's family, his friends, his students, his Teaching Assistants, for the Department, and the people he served at the Family Caregiving Center. Wayne's death is a significant loss to many, many people.

My prayer is for everyone touched by his death to grieve in a healthy way and to let the influence Wayne has had in their lives to live within them. The world will be better for it.

Chris Gonzalez