Anniversaries can be strange things. Even years later, the anniversary of an event and the memories around it can still resonate strongly.
A few days ago, I started thinking of Dennis Lane quite a bit. Wordbones as he named himself and many called him. Consciously, I wasn’t aware I had been thinking of the anniversary of his tragic death. Then I saw on Facebook one of those “memories” and “posts from the pasts” where I’d written about him and his untimely death, and I realized, yes, unconsciously, he’d on my mind. Very much on my mind.
Our friendship had ebbs and flows in it over the 20-plus years we were friends. There were times when we saw each other a couple times a week, often sitting at the Clyde’s bar in downtown Columbia; times when we only saw each other every few months or so; and times when we engaged quite regularly (online!), often by commenting on each other’s blog posts.
Dennis was a foundational person in my experience of feeling connected to the community of my hometown, Columbia, Maryland: first when I “arrived on the scene” as a young businesswoman and owner of Do The Write Thing. Perhaps it was my company name that called to him, for while he made his income in and around the field of property and tenancy, he was, in his core, a writer, a communicator, a story teller. (All who knew him knew that!)
He grounded me.
He always made me feel welcome even when my own shyness of discomfort had me wanting to melt into the background. And his courage to speak his mind influenced me and gave me strength again and again. Particularly when I would sit at my computer and keyboard, afraid to hit the “publish” button on a blog post, I would think of him and his courage to speak his mind, to own his perspective and to share his truth, even if it ruffled a few feathers.
While it is, I figure, a goal for most to have some sort of legacy that lives beyond them, I believe, for Dennis, the number of people he touched goes well beyond his comprehension. He had friends, fans, admirers and people who respected him — both those who knew him personally and those he never met but who knew him through his decade plus of writing for The Business Monthly, his brilliant (and funny) blog, his podcast and his larger-than-life personality.
Legends aren’t born every day. And, tragically, this one was taken from us early. Yet what can we really ask for in life if not to have had a positive impact on others. In this, Dennis had spades.