Fare thee well is a blessed good-bye. To a fare thee well is a measure of perfection. Thus, when I think upon the report issued today of Art Bell’s last moment on this plateau, I embrace both that fond good-bye and the perfection that was his leaving.
I believe in the man, Art Bell. I believe in the strength and verisimilitude of his nightly presence on the radio. He was invited into my home and my life, a welcome guest who made me smile, laugh, wonder, and ponder everything from the depths of a bottomless hole to galaxies far beyond my wildest imaginings. His music and voice comforted me; a friend in dark places, on lonely nights, or in a room with my favorite people, gathered around our C Crane Hand Crank Radio, playing cards by candlelight.
There were questions I always wanted to ask Art, and now wish I had. Why did I need to call in on a certain line if I lived west of the Rockies? And how did he know if I wasn’t really a first time caller, but called in on that particular line, anyway? Was cranky old JC Webster for real? Who was his favorite guest? Why did he believe someone wanted to shoot him? So many more questions, and now I can only speculate.
This I do know, Art Bell was a very sick man. He had advanced COPD. If one does not know, this is an extremely difficult and frightening way to die. And the medications found to be the cause of his death were for a person in enormous pain, most likely from his back problems. What final decisions he made, or what led up to that last night in his home are beyond the scope of our knowledge. And I think they should remain that way.
There are two profoundly cataclysmic, yet solemn and simultaneously celebratory events in one’s life. Birth and death. We do not control the first, and seldom control the second. What is noted, though, is the presence of our most important and intimate people at one and, hopefully, both events. In Art’s passing, I choose to believe he was surrounded by those who loved him most, on this side of the veil, and on the other. I believe, by whatever means it took, his passage was peaceful, and he was welcomed to his new home, pain free and released from all that had imprisoned his earthly body.
When we think of this man who spent his life bringing each radio listener new and unexplored stories, places and people who had been there and back, again; I hope we recall with fondness and appreciation what he gave. I hope we recall he lived a full and productive life. And most of all, I hope we remember him, Art Bell the man, and not merely how he left us. That was his private business; what he left us is our’s. Let’s let him go now, and be grateful we knew him, and that he loved us. In the end, that is enough.