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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
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The Hole Closes Up
2004-10-26 07:07
by Jon Weisman

I first became aware of the hole closing up in 1997, the year after an incident in which, for the second time in about 18 months, a friend of mine died unexpectedly and tragically.

This was someone I saw or talked to on an almost daily basis, someone who combined joy and thoughtfulness, someone who taught me when I was single, unemployed and depressed - taught me like I was learning to walk - that I was still young and that my life was very much ahead of me.

It wasn't that John Egan didn't have his own troubles, but he didn't let those troubles run his life. It is not trite, but rather simple fact, to say that Egan conveyed to me much of the means I needed to cope with his passing.

Egan's death, just before his 26th birthday, left a hole in my life painful enough that I could physically feel the wound open.

Though it was one of the deepest, this was not the first time in my life that I could feel such a wound. In fact, I'm fragile enough to have felt it after a breakup. Even the pang I feel in my stomach when I leave a place where I've built sentimental ties, I associate with that wound.

But something about the lessons Egan passed on to me made me experience his wound in a new way - and I say this with some regret. In helping me be positive about my life amid the gloom, he made me conscious of how the holes that open in your life almost always close. The wounds heal. There might be a scar, but faint.

And so it is today that when I think of John Egan, my very good friend, I don't feel pain, but disbelief. I don't feel physicality. I just wonder, wonder what his life would be like today, what he would share with his family, and his friends, and me.

I find it strange that I had not connected this awareness with the Dodgers until this month. The Dodgers won a division title, won a playoff game, celebrated more than they had in years. They did so without a player, Paul Lo Duca, who was part of the fabric of the team, whose departure ripped open wounds for many fans. Lo Duca is remembered and his contributions missed. But the outpouring of grief, which had people all but rending their garments on July 31, is gone. Nowhere to be found. The hole closed up.

And so it is today that I return from a weekend away at my college reunion, a weekend all about connections made and lost, to learn that Ross Porter has officially been told not to return to the Dodger broadcasting booth.

This is not a tragedy, not a death in the family. Some fans won't even miss Porter, though I think even most of those, as has been written elsewhere, cringe at how callously his departure was handled. (Among other insults, did not even do a news story on the event, instead publishing only that feeble press release.)

But for me and many others, when we think of the Dodgers right now, there is that hole where Porter sat, where his friendly drawl floated through the air. There is that emptiness.

For selfish reasons, I feel this even more than a few others. Porter, as you might know, became a friend to me and this website this year, friendships that I consider among my highlights of 2004. Those won't end with his departure, but I will certainly regret the distance as he moves on to his next job.

We can cherish the fact that Vin Scully is still around, but the hole of Porter's absence remains.

For now.

From where I sit today, what saddens me the most about Porter leaving the Dodgers is not that it leaves a hole, but that the hole will eventually close up. And what we'll be left with are just the hair's-width memories of what it was like to listen to him talk about the Dodgers with some of the same passionate level-headedness that I try to bring to this site.

Today, people feel Porter's departure. Tomorrow, all they'll do is remember it. Because, as John Egan certainly would have shown me by his example, there's so much in this world to feel good about. When I think of Egan at this moment, it is sadness mixed with a smile. How could it not be?

But, even in deference to Egan, I say this. Time marches on, time grabs lives before they are lived and careers before they are completed, and I don't like it.

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