I apologize for not writing sooner, but I wanted, while time still remains, to express my best hopes and prayers for your health difficulties which have so tragically taken a turn for the worst.
It is disappointing as well as sad for me to learn that after your treatments seemed to be going so much better than anybody could have ever hoped, even to the point that you seemed to be defying the odds and successfully slowing to nearly a halt this wickedly aggressive cancer, that you were beset with an intestinal disturbance which revealed that the illness has spread in a most vicious and unexpected way.
The diagnosis has made most of us who follow and respect your work through the years stunned, especially after reading that your cancer seemed to have slowed to a degree such that you could be expected to continue your important work for a long time to come.
I am always thinking of just how fast time seems to go by. It seems not at all that long ago when we ran into each other on Broadway in your neighborhood that early morning and you told me of your cancer. Before that, we had gone for many walks in the city, We once went for a walk in Central Park, another time, we walked on Riverside Drive, where you always admired the Fireman’s Monument at 100th Street. On one occasion, we walked through the campus of Columbia University and talked about its beautiful architecture, the only thing praiseworthy nowadays about that institution.
You first came to my attention when I was living in Munich. I first met you at Columbia University, in, I think, 2005, when I had returned to New York and we both went to a lecture given by Bat Yeor (Gisèle Littman) on her book, Eurabia. You were with Andrew Bostom as I remember, and as I waited, I wondered what you would be like in person. Even though I knew what you looked like from your photo online, I still didn’t recognize you until you identified yourself in a question to Mrs. Littman in the question period after her lecture. I can say that I found you as a first impression to be intense and clear thinking, as well as a good listener, but your voice was strong, measured, and deeper than I had imagined.
One thing I always appreciated was your honesty, especially as it concerned failings in certain aspects of my character and personality. You seemed to identify immediately my (out of control, as you called it) negativity, something that you seemed to be drained by, and something others have noticed. As for your truthfulness, I think it was something I’ve liked the most about you, whether in your analysis of current racial, political, or social subjects, or in things you’ve noticed about me.
As I reflect on things past, the reality of seeing you select an epitaph today in preparation for your death has left me with a sense of loss. It reminds me that time passes so quickly, and so much time is squandered as we think life offers us all the time in the world to fulfill our work. But as we are suddenly faced, as you are, with our own mortality, we realize many thing such as the importance and centrality of God, of Jesus, of friendship, and kindness, and of truth, and forgiveness.
In the end, these are most important as you prepare your soul to meet God. The journal you’ve been posting at VFR speaking of your terrible physical suffering, and your thoughts of death, and of the nature of God, is of such a deeply personal nature as to be almost Socratic. This honesty and willingness to lay bare your soul to others is an extension of the truthfulness I always noticed about you and which I admire in you. It is something most people wouldn’t wish to reveal, yet in doing so, you touch on the fears most have about living, and dying, and that take a lot of courage. [LA replies: To me it’s not courage, I just naturally behave the way I behave, the way I can’t help but behave.]
As you’ve noticed, some will use this against you in your time of suffering and facing the end of life’s journey, but these people are not truthful. They embody a spirit of malice that is cruel in its nature, but falsely presented as kindness, or truthfulness. And, as you know, God will judge us all, and he knows what is really in our hearts. I think that in you, he will find a very good heart which always sought truth, sought God.
I hope you feel better, and my wife and I will keep you in our prayers.