The Dead Cannot Speak… That’s Where We Come In.

It’s a frigid morning in Niagara Falls and as always, I was listening to music on my phone during the ten minute walk to work; the tunes of choice were from the Broadway show that, in my daughter’s mind ranks above all others, Hamilton.

Among the songs that both entertain and enlighten me is one that never fails to pierce my heart, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”. This morning was different though. Don’t get me wrong, I was as moved as ever, but all my thoughts, my inspiration, my admiration for Lin-Manuel Miranda, coalesced into a key that unlocked the door I’ve tried to place over the seemingly-bottomless well of grief centered on my fallen brother-in-arms, Rockin’ Ronnie.

I thought of my pain, yes, but today I’ve also decided to take Lin-Manuel’s lyrics to heart. This is how the song starts…

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control:

Who lives
Who dies
Who tells your story?

And here’s the part that truly set me on the road  I’m on today,

But when you’re gone, who remembers your name?
Who keeps your flame?

Who indeed?

My friend is dead. I can’t do anything about that. It was his decision, where it stemmed from I’ll never know, but I couldn’t save him; he didn’t want that. But what do I do now? What does anyone who has ever lost someone do?

We carry on. And more than that…

We tell their story.


Every damn day, Rockin’…


And so this is my suggestion to all of us dealing with waves of holiday-induced grief: don’t let the dead fade from this world, don’t let them be fated to exist only in our isolated memories.

Talk about them. To friends, family, strangers, anyone who will listen. (Though I would advise against sharing with guys in dirty trench coats who spend most of their time leaning against walls while speaking to invisible agents of shadowy government agencies.)

Write about them. On blogs like this (not that there are any blogs quite like this), “the Facebook”, even cave walls will do.

Share pictures of your time together. Come on, people, this is the age of Instagram and their ilk. One less photo of your cat as a Jedi won’t break the internet.

For the Fallen, we are the keepers of the flame, and as such, it is our duty to stoke the fires of memory occasionally. Ronnie may have died on a summer’s day that suddenly became very cold, but those of us who knew him best speak of him often, and as long as we do, Rockin’ will always be a part of the world his physical form left behind. Do the same for those you love.

I know grief isn’t so easily shelved (I still gets tears in my eyes when an especially-poignant memory of my friend rises up) but it can be channeled if you’re willing to push through.

And that’s all I have to offer, take it for what it’s worth.

See you in the lobby, kids…

About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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53 Responses to The Dead Cannot Speak… That’s Where We Come In.

  1. Our friends, and family, are never forgotten as long as they live in our hearts and the memories are shared or relayed, be it photos, poems, a song lyric or a special place once visited. To our lost loved ones…….. you are not lost, just waiting for us to join you.

  2. Marion Hardy says:

    Yes Robert that is exactly what we do. This is part of the journey from grief to acceptance. It is a hard road that I have been on a few times. Please talk as often as you want about your friend I love to hear about Rockin’ Ronnie!

  3. I have the belief that as long as someone remembers them, the dead never die. Excellent post, Hook.

  4. davidprosser says:

    I’m sure your memories of Ronnie will keep him alive in a lot of minds for a very long time. Your friend could not ask for more than that and he is finally at peace from whatever troubled him.
    You’re a nice man Robert whom anyone should be happy to call friend.

  5. C.E.Robinson says:

    Robert, agree with John! Excellent post. I listened to the short song, History Has It’s Eyes on You from the musical Hamilton and liked it a lot. The lyrics are perfect to remember all our loved ones, friends & family, who have died. Absolutely, tell their stories! Lin-Manuel Miranda’s very talented. Happy New Year! Christine

  6. Lisa Orchard says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. We never quite get over the loss of a loved one, but we do learn to carry on and they would want that, I’m sure.

  7. oceanswater says:

    Robert, have you ever read “Many Lives Many Masters “ by Brien Weiss M.D. ? It gave me a lot of peace in my heart when I’ve experienced losses.

  8. You walk to work? I like listening to music while I walk. It’s an advantage living close to work place.

  9. It is already a difficult time if year to deal with depression. We should ALL take stock in what is going on around us with whom we live5. I’m so sorry you lost your friend. I know this is all so hard right now. Try to keep your chin up and think positive thoughts. Happy New Year my friend… 😙😙

  10. I once did a very lengthy blog about my Nana. She was a real wildcard in her own quiet way.

  11. markbialczak says:

    You, Hook, are an excellent forever friend and keeper of the flame.

  12. For what it’s worth…it’s worth more than gold, diamonds and bitcoin (at the current market) put together. You’ve gone right to the heart of my biggest fear. The reason I even started writing in the first place. I need to go have a wee cry now.

  13. dianaepona says:

    So often I find my inspiration, and impetus to carry on, in music. Writing from the heart is always best. This was beautiful, Hook, just beautiful.

  14. nbratscott says:

    Thank-You, Hook.
    I just spent the last half hour telling my grand daughter about my father. The only thing she knows comes from the stories she’s heard from his last few years after my mom died, when he’d changed. She deserves to know about the wonderful years. And, I needed to tell the stories.
    When you get the chance will you (re)post a video of your friend making music?

  15. Doug in Oakland says:

    No-one knows the how or why of which of us get to remain standing, and it sure as hell doesn’t make any sense that I can tell, but it does seem as if those of us who have made it this far have a certain responsibility to carry the message out of the past for those who weren’t around to see it themselves.
    I often find myself wondering at my own survival in the face of higher caliber folks who didn’t make it this far. Like, me? Really?
    Then I make myself remember a couple of things that I find helpful. First, I don’t have to understand things in order for them to work, and thank the gods for that. And second, I have to trust the judgement of the people who entrusted me, one way or another, with their stories.
    And I’m gonna tell them, goddamn it, because they deserve to be told.
    Hang in there, Hook, you are a good man.

  16. Welcome to this beautifully stated turn in the healing road, my friend. To honour them is to honour your part in their world too. I’m sure your friend & your father-in-law would enjoy that.

  17. Theresa says:

    Keep his memory alive Hook! We do that in my family every time we get together; stories of my father, my Godfather and uncle who were characters in their own rights. Each unique, each with their own quirks. It’s fun to let the young ones know what their ancestors were up to and where they get their senses of humor from.

  18. StillWaters says:

    Beautifully expressed, Mr. Hook. Your blog posse is pulling for you.

  19. So well said! I’d love to hear some stories about you and Rockin’ Ronnie; like how you met and became fast friends.

  20. Dave Ply says:

    You’ve nailed it, Hook. I lost a sister some 23 years ago, but the memories still live on. They’re particularly strong on New Years’s Eve – her birthday. In time your pain for Ronnie will ease, but there’s are always those moments – painful maybe, but they keep our loved ones alive.

  21. GG says:

    May his memory be eternal.

  22. Tara says:

    I try to do this as often as I can. And, to that end, I have had a project of sorts that I’ve been toying with for the last 3 years. Perhaps this is the year to start it.

  23. curvyroads says:

    Such words of wisdom, Robert! I am glad you are channeling your loss into sharing what you loved about your friend! Hugs ❤

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