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I will try to be one of the voices of the many nurses who have been blessed to be part of Dwight's life and times in and out of the medical community. Dwight is the face that appears when I try to explain to friends how much I love my job as an oncology nurse -- how rich the experience is and how often we find times to laugh together. When people hear that I am a "chemo" nurse, the typical response is something like, "I could never do that" or, "It must be so hard . so sad," but I know that my work gives me the opportunity to meet wonderful, brilliant, spiritual people who are willing to be open and vulnerable and are willing to share life's lessons and gems.
Dwight was surely one of those persons. He made me think of those Master Card commercials: the I-V stick, $75; the chemotherapy bag, $500; the blood draw. $125.00. Dwight's lessons on love and marriage . priceless . Dwight's memories of being backstage at a U2 concert . priceless . Dwight's Christmas CD's . priceless . Dwight's stories of Sheri and their visits to Maine and Canada. priceless . Dwight's stories about faith and his understanding of Jesus in today's world . priceless.
Then there is the part that always comes when unbelievably inspiring and unforgettable people depart from this earthly place, leaving us behind to fend off the crazy times and cope with the overwhelming and challenging times by ourselves . the times we really know, if only for a moment, what real loneliness is. To be so blessed, to have shared just a moment with Dwight, and to carry his memories and spirit forward is a true gift that he chose to give to me. to all of us
9:39PM on the train back to NYC from the viewing:
I love Dwight.Or more specifically I like him ALOT, which seems the reverent
statement in my mind. I mean I do love the guy but love, being a decision,
always and still felt like there was some effort involved, and enjoying
Dwight's company and digesting his thoughts were near effortless as they
I've only seen him on four separate occasions; two days in
twenty-ought-three when we were both working a music festival just outside
of Ottawa, Ontario, one day in late summer when I finally met the woman he'd
talk so often about (incidentally, it's not bragging when it's the truth)
and then at the Pre Bubble Boy Party in October. And still, I have very deep
feelings of love for him. Feelings I know are shared with the same depth of
emotion by hundreds of others. It's really hard not to feel this way about
Dwight. Because though he would amaze me, I wasn't that surprised at how
amazing he was. I had an inkling of that from the day of our first
Somebody said you should 'marry up'. I'm not there yet so that's how I pick
my friends anyway. And I think our relationship was pretty simple. We mostly
entertained each other, he with stories, I with quips on those stories. It
seems like it's all we had time for really. But it meant the whole world,
that time spent.
But what did I learn from Dwight. Well, I recognized a man who grappled with
faith in real life and some of the incongruencies and contradictions and
victories and pitfalls ... I don't know. Dwight and his life were a blessing
to me. He came along at a time I needed to know someone I could relate to
had already navigated the road I think I'm on. I really wanted to know him
longer. I wanted to look at things the way Dwight looked at them. I wanted
to be like him and in turn the God who has called him home.
I got to meet his families today, the Ozards and the Whites, and visit with
Sheri. Talked with these people that God chose to care for and be in
Dwight's life and the friends he loved and vice versa. I was excited to meet
them because I knew Dwight. I wanted them to know how much Dwight meant to
me. And I guess I needed to say good-bye to a man I looked up to. So when
talking to Sheri and the Ozards found me choking up, Mrs. Ozard told me,
'God gives us tears so He can wipe them away' and that He would do great
things out of this. I believe her. I know his funeral and successive times
people get together to remember him will be sad because his time here seemed
like it was cut short. I won't understand why this side of heaven. But they
will also be celebrations because he was who he was, he is where he is, and
he meant what he meant to us. And if it's about a Dwight, it would be about
a party breaking out at a wake.
I pray to be able to one day better vocalize what I learned from him over
the course of our friendship but what I learned today was, since you're the
company you keep (and I was honoured and priviledged to share his), there
are a number of people I will still get to enjoy and be blessed with because
of his life.
- Bradford How
Got to the church on time and was able to stay all the way to the closing hymn. It was a beautiful and uplifting service, and Dwight was very much alive throughout. I especially loved his father's words -- they touched my heart very deeply.
Thank you Lord for allowing me to be there for the countless friends of mine who were far closer to Dwight but could not make it. Not sure why I was allowed this privilege, but I pray that the seeds of faith, hope and charity that Dwight continually sowed will take root in my heart and blossom into something that will bless others as his life has blessed mine.
Amen and amen.
I don’t think that we have ever met, but I am one of the myriad of people who were blessed to have met your husband and to consider him a friend,. Were it not for his own generosity of spirit and great hospitality, I would hesitate to use the term “friend” for I only met him maybe three times. But looking again at his website and seeing the wonderful web of people who were drawn to him, I doubt that I am the only one in this position. His arms stretched wide to include a diverse group of people: rockstars, homeless folks, gay people, preachers, activists, and even timid white, middle class guys like me.
I first met Dwight back in 1992 at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I had just flown down to Philadelphia to visit EBTS and explore whether I wanted to study there and work for ESA. Having missed my train stop, I had to walk for a couple of nervous miles in the dark back to the school. As a result, I arrived well after the office had closed and at a bit of a loss as to what to do next. Upon hearing that I was also a Canadian, someone called up Dwight and he welcomed me up to his floor, gave me half of his soup and proceeded to take me and a few of his friends out for beer and wings. It was a wonderful welcome and it quickly dispelled my fears about attending a sober, “Baptist” institution. Dwight gave me the low down on the school and ESA, and a very frank assessment of working in a basement office with exposed water pipes but doing really cool, prophetic work while going deeply into debt.
In the end, I turned down the Finney to take the money that Carleton was offering me to study international development. Although a pragmatic decision, I always wondered if I had chosen the easy way out (“God” vs. “Mammon!”. But Dwight was gracious in this, saying “If God opens a door like that, take it!” and he never made me feel bad for not making the same choice that he did. I continued to follow his PRISM editorials with great interest, and was honoured when he asked me to write a short book review.
The second time we met was at the Chicago Declaration II conference. After my visit to Eastern, Dwight had hooked me up with the Christian Environmental Association in California, and I attended their first 1993 conference. From that came an invitation to attend the Chicago conference in the Fall of 1993, where Dwight again welcomed me and invited me to the post-concert party (another haven of alcohol at an ESA event! Was there a theme here? Did Sider know?). I recall his ease with the performers –Randy Stonechild, Rick Elias and Phil Keaggy – and having a Heineken with Phil and having to admit that I had never heard of him until that night. “Oh,” he said graciously, “It’s great to meet someone who doesn’t know my music”. It was my first and likely last encounter with the world of celebrity, but a moment that I will always recall fondly.
My third meeting with Dwight occurred when we bumped into each other at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto a few years later. I was there to meet my new girlfriend (now my wife), Tricia, and Dwight also mentioned that he had met someone very special. Reading his postings these past few years as he struggled with his illness, his love and devotion for you was always conspicuous and lavish, and it is great to know that I was given an early heads up on this budding romance.
Although we never met after that point, we did keep up an occasional email correspondence, even as you two were in Georgia and Trish and I moved to Tanzania. I followed his blog from afar and after we returned to Canada in 2002. It was only recently that I noticed that I hadn’t received an update for a while (I think that I may have fallen off listing in the summer), and it was a note from a mutual friend who knew Dwight from London that broke the news to me this morning.
I’m typing with tears right now, scared that my delayed grief may seem self-indulgent and incidental given my tangential relationship to Dwight. But I’m writing as well to let you know that there is a wide embrace of people around the world who mourn Dwight’s death and that embrace is there for you too, right now. We also celebrate his great gift of friendship, his joie de vie, and his passion for speaking up for the voiceless.
My prayers are for you and all who knew and loved him. Please know that you are not alone.
Under the Mercy,
Written about three weeks after Dwight's passing:
This past Tuesday evening I finally got to go see Man in Black. I had a standing invitation to see it with a friend opening night, but alas, that was the night of Dwight's funeral. So Tuesday was the earliest we could reschedule.
The movie was amazing. Joaquin Phoenix was channeling Johnny in action and voice. Its amazing he actually sang every note. Reese Witherspoon is supposedly just as good or even better...but while I have a limited memory of seeing clips of Johnny performing (to compare Phoenix's performance to), I have very little memory of June. But it was a fun, rollicking, heartbreaking, ultimately redemptive movie.
Afterward my friend and I went to a local restaurant and I kept my word to buy a round of scotch in Dwight's honor. (I even got through four small sips of the stuff...sorry...that's the best I could do, Dwight...and all the vomiting the next day?...I think that was due to the flu, not the scotch.)
What really made the moment was the jukebox. As the scotch was being delivered to our table, Marvin Gaye's "Mercy Mercy Me" was playing, next was Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues"...two of Dwight's favorite artists...by the third song my friend and I were waiting in anticipation....and....it's Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me". We had a good laugh over this. Now, one thing about Dwight...as we all know he had very high taste in music, film, and food. Admit it, he was a movie, record and food snob. BUT, you could like just about anything in his presence as long as you labeled it a guilty pleasure. So we called this Def Leppard tune a guilty pleasure. A few songs later was The Dixie Chick's "A Home" (another artist and song that Dwight turned my on to) followed by Marvin Gaye "Let's Get It On" while images of Jack Black flashed on a TV screen for a preview of King Kong. (If you saw High Fidelity, Dwight's self-proclaimed autobiographical movie, you'll know why this song and Jack Black go together.)
So as we imbibed our scotch and greasy pub appetizers, everything seemed fitting for an evening remembering Dwight. Love you, Dwight. Miss you, Dwight.
Grace and peace,
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