When We Gather – A Tribute to Bob Russell

Author: Sairy Franks

This afternoon a group of people of all ages gathered to share space as we sat with the news that our dear friend had passed this morning. We met at a quiet park, where we stood around talking in small groups while folks trickled in. Eventually we walked down next to the river and did what we do during healing time – we circled up. We went around and introduced ourselves, sharing our names and how we’d each had the great fortune of getting to know Bob.

As I looked around at the circle of loved ones who make life the blissful experience that it is, it occurred to me that I had met almost everyone there through Bob and his wife Sally. I had never made this connection before. Bob is well known for his social and environmental activism and his focus on resilience, but I was struck by the amount of love that was created in the midst of his work. Bob would probably laugh if I called him a love activist, but today I realized he was a leader in a love movement. In fact, he still is. Even today I met new openhearted people because of him. He is the gift that keeps on giving.

We continued on to share our stories about him. Of course, we all know about his contagious laughter and extensive knowledge of whiskey, but we also enjoyed learning new fun facts we hadn’t known before. And it was immensely humbling to learn that before passing he had made a list of things he had not done, things that he thought he may wrongly get credit for – clarifying that it was the work of Sally or someone else. We cried and we laughed and we hugged. We said I love you and meant it. We came back to life.

Upon arriving many said that they hadn’t been able to focus on anything and had left work. We talked about feeling numb and checked out. And yet, when we gathered life became real again. We were sad, but we were reconnected to what was alive in us and to the present moment. And the present moment was love. We all kept thanking one another for coming, for being the village. And as it turns out, in many ways we are a village that Bob and Sally created.

The last time I talked with Bob he looked at me and said, “Hey look, we’re both still here” with a grin, knowing his days in this form were numbered. He humbly accepted each moment he had with gratitude for the opportunity to carry on in this life, if even for a breath. A swift reminder that right now is all we have, and we are lucky to have it. Today it was very clear that Bob lives on in our community and our hearts, and that we will be learning from him for a very long time. We love you, Bob.

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6 thoughts on “When We Gather – A Tribute to Bob Russell

  1. Thank you for organzing this, Sairy, and for these profound, humbling and thoughtful words. I can’t tell you how it lifted me up and warmed my heart when I heard that a bunch of you were gathering to remember Bob. I told the Record Eagle reporter: see this is the kind of community we have! You are a special friend.

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    1. The apples don’t fall far from the tree…we learn by example, and what an example you and Bob are for all of us. You, Bob and your whole family are loved beyond measure by so many. We are constantly surrounding you with our circle of love. Big, BIG hugs. xox

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  2. Thank you for this! I was there in virtual attendance, like Bob, in a way.
    Huge love to all and here’s to the journey ahead of integrating Bob into how we move in the world.
    Love from Colorado,

    Mary

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