I lost my friend Tom Defore over the weekend, on the last day of the old year. He was camping with some friends overlooking the ocean on the big island of Hawai’i, in view of Haleakala. He stood up to stoke the fire and slipped away without a word. His foot missed solid ground, and he fell into the ravine. The story of how that all panned out (in a word: badly, despite the best efforts and exceptional care of the friends he was with) is online here, at a site created to remember him: www.distantlights.com/details.html
That site will tell his story better then this, so I’ll be brief and tell only about how on the night this snapshot was taken, we were camping in Utah’s Canyonlands. As Tom built our fire he sounded out the cut planks of wood, and as he found tones he liked he set them aside.
After the fire was blazing he turned back to his planks, buried flat stones upright in the ground, and laid the wood over them, creating a marimba -- the wooden xylophone of Zimbabwe. And then he played. He played for us and for the night and for the stars. And then he took out his m’biras and we played some more. He got up and stoked the fire and that time he came back to his seat and he played until our lids grew heavy and we fell asleep.
He was a brilliant musician; a talented filmmaker; a generous teacher; a compassionate friend.
If I could control anything in this world I’d hit ctrl+z hard and undo that mis-step and bring my friend back. Bring him back to his friends and to his family and to this life that he lived so well.
But goddammit; he’s dead. There's no un-doing that.