My friend and comrade, and a brilliant illustrator, Ken Rinciari, died three years ago yesterday.
I think he had cancer. I know he had severe neuropathological pain in his legs that he described to me after his last visit to NYC. I also know he had all the miscellaneous aches, pains, and various terminal diagnoses from various doctors. He was a man in his late 70s who had smoked hand-rolled cigarettes lit off each other his entire life .
However, I didn’t find out about his death until early in May after he died. It wasn’t a shock since I hadn’t heard from him for quite some time even though we were daily correspondents. And, I knew he had not been feeling well for some time. But when his companion Dawn’s email came–the email addresses of his closest correspondents culled from his Outlook–I cried a little. I was on a New York City bus, and read the news on my phone. Who knows where I was headed…something probably not at all important in the scheme of things.
My eyes are not dry now.
Things come in threes “they” say. My longtime friend Mary, in her 60s and living in New Mexico, died a year after Ken. Soon after that, Cheryl, a Brooklyn writer friend died — she was not even 40. I received a single phone call and one form letter from two of Mary’s sisters. She was far away and we hadn’t seen each other in a very long time, though we spoke on the phone regularly. But I couldn’t get the money together to travel to Albuquerque. Cheryl’s book was published posthumously. Her legend lives on among her friends her in Brooklyn and in the NYC literary scene.
I’ve been having an email conversation with a friend of Ken’s from Alkmaar, Holland for the past week. She said she was thinking of Ken, Googled to find a photo of him, and found this blog. She is an Advocatenkantoor (attorney) there. Ken introduced us quite a while back and we emailed briefly about exchanging apartments, but nothing came of it at the time. We have a lot in common, aside from both being 50-year-old women and being friends of Ken… I’ve had correspondence with lots of Ken’s friends, and some of his family. It seems he touched a lot of lives — and also gave everyone some of his artwork as well…
I don’t really know what more to say than death sucks. That’s what Cheryl’s partner has taught me about death and accompanying grief. There’s really nothing to say except that grief sucks.