That thought is quickly followed by so much else: his generosity of spirit, his love of dogs, his love of his community, his boundless curiosity, his genuine interest in others. But for me, it always comes back to his sense of humor, that twinkle in his eye, his bark of laughter and the fact that he never took himself too seriously.
In thinking back, through grief and shock, to my favorite memories of Dennis, they are all colored by his laughter and his joy in life. Each and every one. Blog parties. Community events. Meetings. Gatherings.
When did I first meet Dennis? I truly can’t recall. If I had to guess, it was at a Blogtail Party at Kloby’s, years ago. “This is Dennis Lane – also known as Wordbones.” One of the magical things about Dennis was this: once you met him, you felt as if you’d known him forever.
I loved reading his blog – Tales of Two Cities. What was it about? Everything. Local stuff. Politics. Pictures he liked. Videos. Anything that caught his curiosity and attention. His posts were ALWAYS peppered with links – to articles, to silly comics, to videos – each one waiting like a little present, waiting for the click. Notably, his blog’s address on Blogspot is “Writing the wrongs.” I always loved that image – the idea that writing could make a difference.
I loved that the highest accolade he would give on his blog was “A wag of the Wordbones tail.”
The part that made me grin, though, was his disclaimer, which summed up his larger than life personality in a nutshell:
DISCLAIMER STUFFTHIS IS A PERSONAL WEB LOG ABOUT STUFF AROUND HERE. THE OPINIONS AND VIEWS OF THE BLOGGER ARE JUST THAT, OPINIONS AND VIEWS OF THE BLOGGER, NOT THE BLOGGERS EMPLOYER, PARISH PRIEST, PROBATION OFFICER OR ANYONE ELSE FOR THAT MATTER. COMMENTS POSTED HERE MAY BE ATTRIBUTABLE TO OTHERS. IF THE CONTENT PRESENTED HERE OFFENDS YOU IN SOME WAY YOU ARE PROBABLY TAKING YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY. IF IT IS JOURNALISM THAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR, BUY A NEWSPAPER.
We were Celebrity Bartenders together a couple of years ago at Evening in the Stacks. We were invited to a pre-event cocktail hour, and spent most of that time together laughing, talking about how we hoped we didn’t come in last in tips, crafting intricate plots to thwart the other bartenders. We stood next to each other at the bar, stealing and hiding bottle openers in a transparent attempt to outmaneuver each other. Later that evening, someone bumped Dennis’s arm and he spilled red wine on the carpet – the library building was brand-spanking-new at that point. He was so proud – first spill! – that he posed for pictures by the stain. Of course we all joked that they’d have to use our tip money to replace the carpet.
At a meeting for this year’s event – Evening in the Stacks: Sparkle & Spurs – we sat together, marveling at the very idea of an Antler Bar and chuckling over the description of the key element of the lobby decorations: “A horse. But not a real horse.”
Whenever I was at the Mall on a Friday, I’d make a point to walk by to see if Dennis and Paul were podcasting And Then There’s That. I didn’t often have the time to sit and watch and listen, but when I did I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mostly I’d walk by, trying to simultaneously show my support while not interrupting (a difficult balance, as you can imagine). Invariably Dennis would glance up and see me. His face would light up and I’d be gifted with his huge smile and a wave.
And that’s what it always felt like when I saw Dennis: a gift. A moment to treasure.
I looked forward to seeing him at events: at Blogtail parties, in particular. He moved through the crowd effortlessly, always with a kind word, encouragement and a smile.
He took great joy in hearing stories about my dogs, and I know he mourned the loss of his. I like to think they’re together now in the great beyond, wandering along a hiking trail or enjoying each other’s company on a patio: Dennis with a glass of wine, Mars munching contentedly on biscuits, tail gently wagging.
I’ve already found myself looking for Dennis when I’m out and about. Just yesterday, I thought I saw him in a crowd. I sped up, on the verge of calling his name until I remembered the truth: I won’t see my friend again. He is gone. And I miss him deeply.
The pain will lessen in time. We will go on. Our community will heal.
And as that happens, I hope that we will let ourselves remain inspired by a good man. That we will each, in our own way, honor his memory. That we will let his laughter and his zest for life echo in our hearts and minds and actions.
Dennis – fiercely intelligent – was not afraid to speak his mind and to respectfully challenge people. He stood up (and spoke up) for what he believed, and he didn’t back down in the face of threats or negativity. He did his homework, and worked hard to keep our community informed. He was willing to discuss and legitimately consider alternate viewpoints, an all-too-rare trait in today’s world. He was able to apologize, when needed. He was willing to change his mind.
And in doing all of this, he changed the world. My world, at least. He inspired me to write, to think, to laugh, to learn, to listen and to love our community with all of it’s fables and foibles and fights, the good and the bad and everything in-between.
He inspired me to hope.
Writing the wrongs, indeed.
Here are tributes to Dennis Lane from fellow bloggers – please take a moment to read them. Each shares unique memories, touches upon his spirit and character in ways that simply can’t be captured by just one person. And each and every one of them is beautiful. If I’ve missed any, please feel free to let me know and I’ll add them.
The Rocket Powered Butterfly – One Last Wag, HoCoRising – My Man Dennis, HoCoRising – Lessons Dennis Taught Me, Awesome Columbia – Dennis Lane, Jessie X – RIP Dennis, Do I Amuse You? – I Lost a Friend, But Not His Inspiration, HoCoLoco, Village Green/Town Squared – A Great Little Story, HoCo Connect – Blogging Community’s Loss, The 53 – Wordbones, Frank Hecker – RIP, Dennis Lane, Steve Charing – The Senseless Loss of Dennis Lane, HowChow – Dennis Lane was a Wonderful Guy, UK Desperate Housewife – Goodbye Dennis J. Lane, Lisa B, Mrs. S, HoCoConnect – Bloggers as Superconnectors, AnnieRie Unplugged – A Hole In Our Hearts, AnnieRie Unplugged -Wegmans, wordbones and howchow, Kitchen Scribble – It Takes a Village, The 53 – June 4th is Kind of a Big Deal, Business Monthly – A Requiem for Dennis, Business Monthly – He Was One of a Kind, HoCoRising – Living Like a Visitor, HoCoRising – “It’s a Dark Suit”, HoCoRising – Wordbones Memorial Book Club, Examorata – What Can Be Done, The 53 – Remembering Dennis Today