February 13, 2006

Remembering Ragin Miller

Ragin Miller Westerlund

My roommate, John Ragin Miller, a man of acid wit and cynical humor, died one year ago today. It was Monday, February 14, 2005. Ragin, whom I sometimes called "Johnny Ray-Gun" was 30 years old when he died of, among other things, complications from his long battle with diabetes. Those other things include untreated acute and chronic depression, poverty, frequent alchohol use, and a street "counterculture" completely devoid of the power to instill hope and promise to a young man in dire straits.

Those who knew him will agree that he died of a broken heart. When a man's heart breaks, romantic love is only the first thing to go. The weight of debt, poverty, sickness and anger can drive one beyond dispair, and break the very will that makes us human. I believe that Ragin expressed his will in his spirited and blistering wit, but that it failed in the end to keep him afloat.

Ragin, despite his many troubles, was a talented actor and critic, with a sense of irony that far outstrips that of most people. Moreover, he possessed an ability to acknowledge and directly confront the uglier aspects of human life. I count my conversations with him during his lucid moments among the most rewarding of my life.

Ragin was a terror in the kitchen. He was a gifted cook, and he employed his encyclopaedic memory to excellent use in his distinctly southern cuisine. His tyrannical manners in the kitchen only contributed to his charm. He was a proud American from beneath the Mason-Dixon line, a fact he never let his "Damned Yankee" roommates forget.

I can't say enough about Ragin. He remains unforgettable. Today, one year after his death, I wish to remember him and send my warm regards to his mother and father.

Requiem Eternitum, Ragin.

Ragin Miller Westerlund

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