A Sad Time for One and All


Washington Island 2011

On April 23, 2013 our friend and teacher, Norbert Blei, died after a long illness. I haven’t been able to write before because the enormity of it took my breath and brain away. It is only now, two weeks plus, that I can even wrap my mind around it. He was always larger than life, the person who would always “be there” for us and the ultimate figure in my writing.

Yes, many of us will go to The Clearing in spite of his passing. The second week of June is “Norb’s week,” and Norb’s writers will be there to celebrate his writing and life. I can’t imagine meals without a series of Norb stories; if two people pass on the path, Norb’s presence will be felt. He walks with us, brown mocs and safari vest and that mustache. As he grew sicker, his mustache seemed to grow long until he looked like an ancient Zen philsopher, which he was in life. It seemed only fitting that he began to look like Du Fu or Rumi at the end.

There are many celebrations of his life planned; private and public. Those of us at The Clearing will be having a memorial evening, a day of doing Norb’s books and the general conversations that will take plalce. Some people may even have written something to read.

At the end of June, a large memorial is being planned with music, dancing, and general gay festivities in his honor. I have heard that there is a movement to transfer “The Coop,” Norb’s writing retreat, to The Clearing. I hope the board decides to pass this request.

I, myself, haven’t been able to write anything yet about Norb. I want to do some poems to honor him, but nothing comes yet. Hopefully something will so I can fill my papers with the joy of knowing him.

The photo above, although not of The Clearing, contains Norb’s Clearing group. We had only two of these sessions on Washington Island, but they were remarkable. This photo has always been one of my favorites and I will remember Norb this way, surrounded by students, as teachers from Socrates on to todays mentors. Let’s rejoice our friend’s visit on this earth.

Published in: Uncategorized on May 8, 2013 at 10:56 am  Leave a Comment  

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