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Dear Bill,

I visited the slime mold today. It was Lily’s suggestion. I was telling Leslie how empty the campus feels without you, and Lily said “why don’t you stop by that fungus my Dad loved so much.” She’s thoughtful like that—takes after her parents. 

Remember when you first showed me the slime mold? We were walking from the Union back to Linton Hall soon after I first arrived on campus in 2015. I thought a student had been sick from too much drinking the night before. But you knew better. You always saw the deeper beauty of things. “This is one of the most amazing creatures on campus,” you said, “it’s a slime mold. They feed on decomposing nutrients, recycling them, and returning them to the food web. They even communicate to others of their kind through chemical signals.”

Slime mold on gravel on the left of the image and cement on the right. The sidewalk of cement runs into the center of the photo and off into the distance.

Today, the slime mold thrives, and as I stood there smiling, remembering you, I thought of the lilies you loved in your garden. So, I decided to visit the Jean and Alfred Goldner Daylily Collection over by the library. You told me once that you were partial to lilies because they are rhizomatic, building rich networks of connection beneath the soil, supporting one another year after year through an ever-thickening web interconnection. You can already see the shoots of the new lilies beginning to emerge from “out of the dead land.” When they blossom, I will think of you and of the vast network of relationships nurtured by your wisdom and care and creative imagination.

Oh Bill, beloved friend, your absence is so present to me now…I miss you so deeply, and yet somehow you are here.

In my wanderings, I came upon a buckeye tree, planted this very day, a life to honor your life; a tree whose roots grow long and deep, and whose fruit symbolizes abundance and resilience and positivity, as your life itself embodied.

And as I visited these places, something wonderful began to take root and grow from the emptiness that prompted Lily to send me to the slime mold you loved so much. Your love remains; it brings us together, calls us to our deeper purpose, creates a garden in which each of us, a flower, is nurtured by the nexus of meaning you cultivated.

Your work, your life, the spirit of your gifts are present all around us, they animate our relationships and illuminate a world broken without you and better because of you.

So, rest now, sweet Bill, and know your work endures in us. We will remain true to purpose, and practice every day, just as the way you lived your life taught us so well.

With love, a broken heart, and unfathomable joy for the time we had together, your friend,

Christopher P. Long Signature

Gallery of BillHD


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