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Life Is a Thin Thread

September 16th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

‘Life, is a thin thread
It’s a thin little hand, on a hospital bed
It’s all the things you left unsaid
Life is a thin thread’
(Connie Kaldor)

I was leaving Burlington, Vermont when I heard the announcement that the Challenger had crashed. It is a moment I will never forget. Last night as I was getting ready to go onstage with Barry at the Higher Ground here in Burlington, I got a call from Vanessa telling me that my friend, Donnie Ruben had passed. This is a moment I shall never forget either. Donnie and I had been friends for a long time. We didn’t hang together… he had his scene up in Columbus and me, well I’m always busy with something… just ask my family. Still and all, when we would meet we would always meet as men and friends.

He had been sick for a while… cancer you know. They carved him away trying to beat it and he rose to the occasion heroically with surgery, rehabilitation and such. There is no way for me to put myself in his shoes, or the shoes of his family. They are all heroes.

He seemed to be making progress, whatever that means in this game, but then he suffered a severe heart attack and flatlined. They brought him back and in the process found the cancer had metastasized and was pretty much everywhere. I understand he was surviving on life support whatever that means these days. Yesterday his lady, G_d bless her, let him go and pulled him off the machines.

Sometimes life seems more about saying goodbye than saying hello, but you know, it was my privilege to know Donnie for the time I did. It is not for me to tell his story, but he was an amazing man and if you Google his name you will find the marks he left on this world.

As I get older, I lose more loved ones and one of the things that pains me about the process is the stark reality that when one’s story is done… it is done and no more new chapters will ever be written. The memories of my parents live in ever changing glass balls where each time I look at them they are in a different phase of their lives. They live in the slide show of my memory. Over time, the images begin to lose their clarity… there is a soft focus that envelops them and in truth, I cannot deny that they have been consigned to the ages.

Selfishly, I have to think about myself. You hear so much talk about one’s ‘legacy.’ Well, I guess that’s all well and good. The things of this world will be inevitably consigned to the dustbin of history. They will just be stories. The true test of one’s ‘legacy’ will be if your friends and family can always see you as a mensch when they call up your image.

Donnie was a mensch. There is no higher compliment you can pay a fellow human! He is at peace now and that has to be a good thing.

He was a good man. Fair winds and following seas, brother!

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  1. September 16th, 2011 at 08:43 | #1

    I feel like your song “Third Week in the Chelsea” is a sometimes overlooked masterpiece. A lot of your prose writing (this piece included) has the same feel to me as that song. Just looking back, at the good and the bad, and mostly being OK with all of it.

  2. Elle
    September 16th, 2011 at 09:19 | #2

    Jorma, you are a beautiful writer and we are lucky to know ya!!

  3. Steve Finkelstein
    September 16th, 2011 at 09:58 | #3

    Sometimes life can be a beautiful tapistry…

    Threads are intertwined with our lifeline. only to break and fall away. We somehow carry on, looking forward to the next new thread which intertwines with ours, giving our own cloth greater color and vibrancy. As long as we live our own life looking forward to the next new strand which each person brings to our own personal loom and the unique perspective each person brings, life continues to have meaning even in the face of loss.

    May Donnie’s memory continue to be a blessing.

  4. anthony tedesco
    September 16th, 2011 at 10:49 | #4

    it’s always tough to lose a friend, it will happen more as we grow older, because our friends do too… Tis better to love and lose….
    We come into this world destined to stay only a short time; our best bet is to try to make it a little bet better for having had us in it.

  5. Cyndy Consentino
    September 16th, 2011 at 11:09 | #5

    Jorma, sorry for all the sadness you have experienced in the past few days.
    Stay strong, and know that you are a beautiful person.

  6. Dave MIllard
    September 16th, 2011 at 11:43 | #6

    Jorma, very sorry to hear of yet another loss for you. My wife lost one of her oldest friends just over a month ago to colon cancer (never had a colonoscopy) which spread to liver, spinal cord and brain. A terrible thing to see your friend progress through the final stages, and like you, can’t even imagine what her husband went through. All we can do is offer prayers, and appreciate what we have in life even more.

  7. Vanessa K
    September 16th, 2011 at 11:50 | #7

    Jorma….Thank you for expressing your love for Donnie. He was a mensch and my life was better for having him in it. Donnie taught me about righteousness and all that living a righteous life means. He lived one as does Lelia…the love of his life. Today I celebrate his freedom. Love you…..

  8. Brett E
    September 16th, 2011 at 12:36 | #8

    So sorry to hear about Don Jorma!!!

    Yer right, no more Chapters to be written, but sounds like the stories will be fondly told and retold…..

    Safe travels in the North Country

  9. September 16th, 2011 at 19:16 | #9

    Sorry for your loss Jorma. Thank you for your heart felt insights. As another summer passes here, we lost eight young people at the Jersey coast. All we can do is learn from past mistakes and forge on. And as your old friends once said ‘teach your children well’. Hope to see you again soon.

  10. September 17th, 2011 at 14:47 | #10


  11. Kyle Siegrist
    September 18th, 2011 at 17:37 | #11

    Jorma, I don’t think I could have said what you did any better than you just did. Thank you. Don was a great guy. I first met him over 20 years ago in my CBS/Sony years and got to know him much better the past decade or so through you, Hurl and Vanessa, as well as his trips to my record shop.

    I was unable to attend his services today but, he has not left my thoughts much at all these past few days.

    He was a great man and I feel honored to have know him.

    I do not know much Yiddish, but I do know mensch, and he truly was a mensch.

  12. Brett E
    September 19th, 2011 at 09:07 | #12


    I fully agree!! You are quite a Wordsmith Jorma!!

  1. February 3rd, 2012 at 14:45 | #1