Posted in Writing

Losing a Friend

“We’re too young to have our friends die” is what I said to my husband last night in bed as we both wept silently into our tear soaked pillows.

When a friend who is in his mid 50s, living his life to the fullest suddenly leaves earth, it causes you to stop – breathe – wonder – and cry of course. The tears are not for Leo, because he is in a beautiful place. I’ve been there, I’m not scared of death. The grief is for his wife Chris. The grief is for us because our friend won’t be here in our house anymore, playing ham radio with us,  stopping by my office for a visit when he is in town, or texting my husband funny messages that usually involved boob jokes – many of which I even found funny.

Our grieving is for our loss of our friend “Lightning Leo.” As a UPS man for 25 years, he was well known in the northeast corner of Wyoming. As a ham radio operator, callsign WY7LL, he was known around the country and the world.  Ham radio is what brought us together and cemented a friendship.

When I married my husband and moved to Wyoming from Connecticut not knowing a soul…it was Leo and Chris who became the first to welcome me and become true friends. A friendship that we all expected to last into our golden years.

As a student of life, I personally have come to a place where I truly believe when the soul has done what it came here to do, it moves on. As human beings though, we have a hard time digesting that and living it – especially in the middle of grief. There are more questions than answers. The fresh grief brings up the all the loss experienced previously. It’s hard to find joy in the middle of it all.  Today was a post on Facebook from my favorite author and spiritual leader Neale Donald Walsch that said:

When you know that everything happens for the best, then everything that happens is okay with you. The irony of this is that when everything that happens is okay with you, you set up an energy field of such equanimity and harmony with the universe that the universal law of attraction draws more equanimity and harmony into your life.”

My goal is to live with the knowledge that everything that happens is for the best and it’s okay. I may not be happy about it right now or ever understand it, but that’s okay. I do know deep in my hurting heart, that Leo will always be here. All of our loved ones are always here because there is no where else. When we remember those who are no longer in the physical plane with us, we bring them back in to our heart. By doing that, they are here right now.

When we lose a family member or a friend, it becomes a needed reminder to all of us to hold on tighter to those who are here. To not take any moments for granted. And never ever be afraid to tell anyone that you love them.  It is a gift that can never be forgotten

Caught in a moment, this picture taken just a few hours before we found out about the loss of our friend Leo.
Caught in a moment, this picture taken just a few hours before we found out about the loss of our friend Leo.


Hello and thank you for visiting my blog! I am a mixed bag all jumbled up with glitter writing a book, playing on ham radio (I'm WY7YL), being a Parrothead, making jewelry, running, reading, or running around with my camera taking pics of nature and my cats. This blog is a smattering of all of it!

7 thoughts on “Losing a Friend

  1. well written Katie…made me think and made me cry…. we all lost a good friend… so sorry for Chris,his family and you and Dwayne… I know how close you were with him… He went doing what he loved, the way I would like to go someday… Love you all ((( hugs )))

  2. Katie – thank you for this beautiful writing. The last paragraph is especially relevant and touching. I shared it with my lover Vicki. 88. Alan

  3. Katie, my condolences to you and Dwayne and Leo’s family. We’ve all been there, I suppose.

    I lost my pal Buzzy Bill WA8YCG. That was tough. We met in Novice License Class in 1967, and remained in good contact until he passed in 2008. We were the only ones from that class to keep our original calls.

    He used to joke that I had been licensed longer that he had. However long it took the FCC folks in 1967 to process from my YCD to his YCG.

    We worked together on projects. We did Field Day, went to hamfests, supported three local radio clubs, worked for the State ARRL Convention. He started what is still known as “Taco Tuesday” with the local hams meeting for lunch. We taught Tech and General classes together. In 1976 we went to DC and spent a week exploring the Smithsonian. In 1979 we drove to Alaska, exploring much of the US along the way — including the Buffalo Bill Museum and Devil’s Tower! When I left WV for Texas he and his brother came to visit regularly. We set up a packet pathway to exchange jokes and chess moves. When I came back to WV we started a monthly trek to Pittsburgh for the computer trade show, taking different hams along each time.

    I still see something funny, interesting, or clever, and can’t help thinking Bill would like that.

    Funny how you can find some friends that come in and out of your life, and some that last a lifetime. Unfortunately, we don’t know the number of days that is.

    I try to keep my gains from knowing him, both personally, and with the ham community. His humor and wit, his technical skills, (and he was no slouch on CW) made him an asset to all the hams around here. I try to glean strength and wisdom from having him around.

    I hope it helps to remember that the loss is on THIS side of the vale.

    Again, sorry you are without your friend. I hope the gains overpower the loss.


  4. Thanks Katie, for expressing the thoughts in our heart but rarely finds it’s way to pen and paper.
    I have worked Leo a number of times and he was one of my first on 160M. For now the heart hurts but as you say it will be OK. Ron VA7HZ

  5. Amen, Katie. Things like this are never easy, but it gives some solace that we were privileged enough to have Leo in our lives. The true sadness should go to those who never had or never will have what we all experienced with our friend. It is our duty to keep the memory of our friend alive. That way he is never truly gone. Leo is the second silent key for me this year and the third loss of someone nearby or close to me. The belief that someone you knew or saw just recently is gone is incomprehensible. The regret that we may not have had everything just right at our last meeting. The knowing what we know now, wishing we could have made the difference to change the outcome. All of these things culminate into a swirl of emotions that must be acknowledged before we can digest what is there to meet us in the future. I’m certain that Leo would not want us to spend the rest of our lives lamenting his loss. He would want us to carry on like he would show up at any minute to join in. We’ll all have to rely on each other to keep Leo alive in our hearts.

  6. Of all of the things that I have heard about Leo since his death, I have not heard anybody say anything bad about him. As his nephew, I greatly enjoyed being with him. Although I didn’t get to spend much time with him for the past several years, I kept wanting to go visit him and Chris, however I was never able to due to not having enough money for fuel.

    He will be missed.

    1. Thanks for sharing Adam. Leo was a really special guy that touched so many people’s lives from so many different places. He was such a gift, and as Del said in another comment, I feel sorry for the people that never got to meet him. As my husband and I look around our home, we realize how much we was a part of our lives He helped put our antenna tower up twice, helped us move out of one home and in to another, was part of many ham radio contests, and just visiting as friends.

      He really was one of those special people in the world, and I hope the face that so many people have made testament to that fact gives you some peace and solace.

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