The Dying Time

Author's note: David McNabb, co-author of The Dying Time, and my very dear friend, died on January 8, 1999. Here is the eulogy I delivered at his funeral service in Knoxville, Tennessee.

David McNabb's Eulogy

On December 31, David had a dream. In that dream he asked the question, "Why do I have to keep going through all of this illness and suffering?" He had thought surely he would die in 1998 and couldn't understand why that didn't happen. In the dream, a dog, a mutt,David added, named Peanut, (David also added he never would have given the name Peanut to a dog) came to him. Peanut told David in answer to his question, "You don't have to keep going through this. You only think you do. Every day you wake up and make a decision to keep going through this. One day you will wake up and decide not to. Then you will come home." On January 1, when David told me about Peanut and the dream, I asked him, "What do you think about that?" David replied, "Makes sense to me." Seven days later, David went home.

David was an uncommon man. There was nothing about David that one could call ordinary. David was so devoted to his spiritual growth that he literally explored every major religion and more than a few minor ones on his way to Judaism. I'm sure that wherever David is right now, he finally has the answers to his questions and will be ready to teach all of us when we join him. When I told him I was going to say this today, he said, "yes, if not before."

I will also remember David for his intellect and his scholarly approach to mastering whatever subject caught his attention. "Encyclopedia Head," I used to call him. He was a voracious reader, but more, remembered everything he read. In the 12 years that I was blessed to have David as my beloved friend, I wonder how much we spent on long distance phone calls discussing what we were reading.

David was a man of courage and conviction. He never hesitated to awaken those mired in ignorance, to teach, to be open and let himself be used as an example of the humanity and the dignity of those in minority groups. His risk-taking commitment to education and service to try to stop the epidemic of AIDS was exemplary. He was a great servant to the community of gay men.

But most of all, David was an extraordinary friend. Finding his destiny with the advent of the disease that finally took his life, David gave devoted care to 24 of his friends, some of whom only became friends after they were sick. David's care of his life partner Danny, who is buried here, was so beautiful to see that I was inspired to ask David to co-author our book on caring for the dying. I have to give him credit for pushing me to get started. We had been talking about writing the book for a couple of years when I visited him in Denver. Walking down a street in Boulder on a Monday, David already on a cane, he turned to me and said,"You know Dear, if we don't get busy and write this book, I'll be dead before it's published." My heart, always in denial that I would one day lose my friend, nearly stopped. By Wednesday, the book was outlined, by Saturday the first chapters were written by each of us, and by Sunday, we had a lead to a publisher in record time. However, on the night of our first book signing at Davis Kidd, David had a headache, the beginning of the meningitis that would plague the last year and a half of his life, and finally cause his death.

David was my friend. He called me and some others here his Anam Cara, a Gaelic word for friend of the soul. An Anam Cara is described as a friendship that surpasses all convention. An unconventional friendship with a most unconventional man. We will miss our Anam Cara. More than we can even imagine today.

David and I had a favorite Celtic passage I would like to read to you called A Blessing for Death. "I pray that you will have the blessing of being consoled and sure about your own death. May you know in your soul that there is no need to be afraid. When your time comes, may you be given every blessing and shelter that you need. May there be a beautiful welcome for you in the home that you are going to.

You are not going somewhere strange. You are going back to the home that you never left. May you have a wonderful urgency to live your life to the full. May you live compassionately and creatively and transfigure everything that is negative within you and about you. When you come to die may it be after a long life.

May you be peaceful and happy and in the presence of those who really care for you. May your going be sheltered and your welcome assured. May your soul smile in the embrace of your Anam Cara."

I'd like to close with one of David's favorite quotations from Shakespeare's Hamlet: Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"

Until we meet again, my friend. You were loved.