Writing a friend’s obituary

ALMOST TWO MONTHS HAVE PASSED since Roger Leitner passed away on a most auspicious day: not just Winter Solstice, but also the day of the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn — a celestial event called The Christmas Star or The Star of Bethlehem. Roger was a star in his own right, an All-American basketball player. A husband. A father. A friend. And on that day, December 21, 2020, I experienced my own great conjunction when I was recruited to write narrative obituaries for a standing featured titled “Colorado Lives” in the Denver Gazette, a newish digital daily newspaper.

I wasn’t sure whether I would want to face mortality every week, but I managed to write Roger’s obituary, and the Gazette published my words of tribute to Roger along with an image of Roger and his master work: a laser-cut stone labyrinth modeled after Chartres cathedral’s. Written from the heart with tears mingling with the ink, this obituary was an honor to write and a gift to the family of Roger — my brother from another mother. The photo below was taken by Roger’s wife on a day when the three of us shared stories and laughs and lunch at their home.

We need more men like Roger.

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