For My Friend Who Died

It is hard to think of Howard (Limoli) not being with us on earth, or that he should have died at all. He was too integral a part of the department for this to have happened. He was like the keel of the ship, if not also its rudder—a man of reasonableness, a kindly presence—unassuming, constant and uninterested, in my memory, in pursuing imbroglios. I know he was a impassioned translator, but what he loved most of all was to button-hole a friend in the parking lot and explain the unbelievable deal he had just made in purchasing a second hand car that a very old and steady person had driven only 2,003 miles in her lifetime. That was when he was boy-like, and I became boy-like and envied him for his important good luck. He had a wry look when he glimpsed an academic intrigue he would not indulge in, and I know he would rather have spent his time in conversations about Dada, Italian and translation. That wry look calmed the hysteria I was quick to embrace. And now in my late years, when I am learning French, of all things, I wish he were around to patiently steer my grammar with his steady, generous hand. I will miss him.

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