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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

In Memory of Luke Rogers

Luke Rogers
July 19, 1989-September 20, 2008

Dear Readers,

Two days ago I had an exciting idea for this week’s blog post. Then one phone call changed everything.

Now it’s late Tuesday night. I publish on Wednesday. I sit here alone at my keyboard, hearing the clock tick, hoping I’ll choose the right words, having to trust my heart. There’s only one subject possible now.

Nobody wants to get one of “those” phone calls, the kind that gives you a strange feeling within a few seconds. You sense the weird vibes. What is it? Then the caller says, “I’m afraid I have some bad news…”

You expect to hear that some friend is terminally ill, or has even passed away. Thoughts of people you know, mostly older ones, crowd your mind. But you never expect to hear that the nineteen-year-old son of good friends, a young man you’ve adored and watched grow up, has died. The words sound foreign, incomprehensible.

First, I think of his eyes. Luke Rogers had the bluest eyes of anyone in the world, except maybe his mother, who shared that gene with him. They were the kind of eyes responsible for the expression “windows of the soul.” To look into them, even in the face of a blond little boy, brought a humbling awareness that you stood in the presence of someone extraordinary. In them you saw a deep serenity, a wisdom, unusual in one so young. I will never, ever, forget those blue eyes.

From both his parents, Karin and Terry, he also inherited the ability to sing. Oh, how he could sing. And he could play the drums, and write, and create art, and excel in school and outdoor pursuits, and anything else he tried. But when I think of Luke it is not those things I think of first. Rather it is the essence of him, his sweet soul, his sometimes shy and sometimes mischievous smile, his humor, his respectfulness, that I remember. I see the kid laughing in childhood photos with his sister Cara Beth or his older siblings, Andrew, Tim, and Cynthia. I see a person with a gentle way about him but full of fun, a loving son, grandson, and brother, a guy with a huge number of friends. Included among those friends, and no less important, were the family’s dogs.

Today while we gathered in the kitchen of the Rogers’ Seattle home, there came a moment of intense human suffering, a moment when the heart feels the quick, mean jab of pain. Where conversation had been, only silence remained. In the background of that silence I barely heard the whispered voice of intuition when it said to me, “Look down.” There, in the upturned face of a black Labrador Retriever, a portrait of worry and confusion, I saw another pair of eyes I will never forget. The vibrant and eternal soul we knew as “Luke" touched all our lives.

Tonight, back in Tacoma, I think about his family. I saw how empty a chair can look, how still a car not driven. When the phone is answered his voice will not be on the other end. But I also think of the lessons he learned by his parents’ fine example and the lessons he taught by his own, the way he gave to others, matured and blossomed, realized his own gifts and found joy in them, brightened the world and left it better. Luke Rogers changed many things forever, in such a short, short time.
Next week Tuesday night will come again. I’ll write my blog, trying to remind myself of my purpose. I have much of value to share with you yet and still believe we are all meant to live a “Good Life” with joy and a sense of abundance, like my title says. That’s how Luke lived. Next week his family and friends will have no choice but to try to move on, to begin the long, slow journey called grieving. We will think of them each difficult day.

I told Karin, “I know if he could, Luke would dry your tears.” She agreed. I believe that all those who go before us, all those in millions of families, lost through illness, accidents, or war, would want us to go on living. They would want us to remember them laughing hysterically over a joke at the dinner table, raiding the cookie jar, letting the screen door slam, throwing a stick for a dog. They would want to remind us that it’s the little everyday things, the cooking aromas and smell of mowed grass, the hugs, the sunsets, the music and magic that make up this crazy, wonderful, vivid time we call our lives. They would say to us, “Take it all in. Be happy! Do this for me.”


Goodbye, Luke. We’ll do our best to live as you lived, with joy, full of wonder and a sense of possibility, full of love. And we’ll always remember how it felt when you looked at us with your beautiful eyes.


Around noon on Saturday, Sept. 20th, 2008 Luke lost his life in a tragic boating accident on Lake Powell. He lived it with exuberance to the end.

A note from Candace:

To all of you who have read my blog post about Luke, I am humbled and deeply moved, to realize how many people out there loved him. On the first day of publication ten times more readers than usual visited here. Thanks also to those who left comments. I'm not able to answer you personally, because even if you leave a name they come to my email address anonymously. Otherwise I would. I still feel and appreciate the connection we all have, and it illustrates to all of us what a special person he was. I'm so honored that I have had the opportunity to share my heartfelt thoughts with each of you.

Candace Brown

To Luke and the Rogers family: You are in our hearts and minds, always.
May peace be with you.
With love from all your friends.


Mike said...

Thank you, Candace. I never met Luke, but I know his grandmother Carol and Shirley, who loved him dearly.

Now, thanks to you, I know Luke.

My love to all who loved him and will miss him so profoundly.

He and his family are in our thoughts and hearts in Boston.

Mike Lew

Anonymous said...

That was a beautiful testimony to Luke's life Candace. I could share and see in my own experience each and everything you said about him.

I hired Luke several years ago to work for us when he wasn't in school and while I was happy he was getting a higher education it was always sad to see him leave for his next round of class as he always brought everyone's spirits up and was such a genuine person that people from every social click within the dealership gravated toward him. Luke was literally the favorite of everyone that he came into contact with.

It was always a pleasure to get Luke's email or phone call that he would be coming home for a few months and checking to see if we could use him back at the store. Luke was the kind of guy that even if business was slow, the first thing out of my mouth was, "when can we get ya back here".

Certainly, Luke's life spoke volums to the quality and caliber of his Mom,Dad and whole Family. I wish I could write better because I feel in some way I've not said enough of the right things to impress on those that are left how special this Kid was.

My heart sank when I heard what was suspected last weekend and things at work have been very sad since. Luke was a huge part of our little family in Ballard and our prayers are now with him and his whole Family. Saint Peter certainly has called his name.

shaun J

luneray said...


Anonymous said...

Beautiful video of Luke singing.

Eric Dauenhauer said...

This was beautiful. Thank you for this. I was Luke's roommate last year and he brought a lot of joy to my life. He will me greatly missed.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful words, can hear the songs, the music and the voices and the encouragements to keep moving on, celebrate the life of the loved one who just left you here...and your brain is telling you the same, repainting the words, echoing the songs and forcing you to smile...and just if your heart would be able to listen and smile.

Anonymous said...

what you said about luke was nothing but the truth and more beautiful than any words can describe.. luke was one of my good friends and i was shocked when i heard the news... no one will ever replace luke rogers on this earth and no one can replace him in my heart.. he was truly an incredible selfless individual that would have done so many more great things in this world.. we all should be a little more like luke. In his memorial service i couldnt stop crying.. tears were streaming down my face from beginning to end. but in a way the service gave me some closure and is a stepping stone in accepting what has attempted and trying to deal wiht it. one thing that really stayed with me after the service was something one of his family members said.." a way we can remember luke is to reguarly preform acts of kindness.. act selfless and only tell one person but either looking into the sky or a picture and saying luke i did this for you.." everytime since then i have had this in my mind and done an unacclaimed act of kindness and then i would look up to the sky and point saying luke that was for you..

Anonymous said...

What you wrote about Luke is moving and beautiful. I did not know Luke. He was one of my son's classmates at Seattle Academy. My son was very shocked and saddened. And, while Luke was not one of his close friends, he told me what a "really nice guy" he was. As a mom, my heart aches for all those who love Luke. I can't fathom it. I am so sorry. Here is a poem that someone sent me when my own brother died years ago as a young man:

“I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says;
"There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, "There, she is gone!"
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad
"Here she comes!"

I hope you find it comforting.

Anonymous said...

I too am sadened by the loss of Luke. I didn't know him but I know of his bright eyes and big smile. We were at Lake Powell the day he lost his life. The skiboat he was in passed just a few feet away and we made eye contact and he waved and smiled at me and I thought wow what a sweet kid. Several minutes later as we watched them in the bay, I saw a splash and we knew what had happened. We assisted NPS in the search but have never heard if they found him. It was the saddest day on the lake we have ever had. He sounds like he was very special.

Anonymous said...

i continue to reread this posting about luke and it truly speaks the truth of luke and his life.. he was a close friend of mine in high school and i will truly never forget him.. he changed my life when i knew him and has continued to change my life since then.. i live each day to the fullest and do random acts of kindness as luke would have done.. we all knew he would do wonders and he did. luke i love and will always miss you, you will be forever remembered and never forgotten.

Anonymous said...

I just found this today. Beautifully written and so true about luke. I will never forget those baby blue eyes and that smile that lit up the room. Tomorrow being sept 20 let us all celebrate and remember luke for the wonderful, warm, kind, kid that he was... man i miss him.