The Death of a Dear Friend

DennisRisch_photoThe classic lawyer stereotype is a person who’s rich, unethical, maybe even a little evil. My favorite “evil lawyer” bit appeared in Grace Under Fire, a late 90s sitcom: Facing a nasty divorce, Grace asks a friend if he can put her in touch with a cutthroat attorney.

“Sure,” he replies, “my ex-wife’s lawyer.”

“Great. What’s his number?”

“He doesn’t have a phone. You draw a pentagram and summon him.”

When I told my lawyer friend Dennis this line, he chuckled. “Not that you’re anything like that,” I quickly added. “If anything you’re the opposite.” Dennis smiled and thanked me.

But I understated it. Dennis was one of the kindest, most ethical people I have ever known. Not only was he not rich, he had a diehard habit of representing anyone who needed him, often for little or no money. And this wasn’t standard pro bono lawyer stuff, it was the humble tenderheartedness of man of deep faith and humanity; Dennis was also addicted to doing volunteer work for his church and community.

In other words, as evil lawyers go, he was a complete failure.

Not that that made him immune to the mysteries of mortality. Dennis was secretary-treasurer of my production company, and last week he was supposed to drop off some tax docs. Instead, he sent a terse email: “Heading to ER.”

“Oh, no!” I replied. “Praying!” But for whom. A family member? (His wife and family are also dear to us).

Two days later, his daughter texted, “Dad left some tax docs for you. He has COVID-19.” She added me to the emergency Update.

The next morning, the Update said he was facing probable last-resort ventilation. Then he took a turn for the better. But later that night, another daughter posted, “Saying our goodbyes.” Trudy and I went to bed with our hearts breaking. For his family. For ourselves. For the many who knew and loved him.

The next morning, just 4 days after his quick trip to ER, the Update read, “He’s gone.”

Friends scheduled a candlelight vigil. On a frigid Valentine’s Day eve, perhaps 70 or more people altered their plans and stood in the snow in front of his house. Why? To show our love for his family, certainly. But also to show our gratitude for the person Dennis was.

No, make that is. Because from now on, I know that if I want to summon Dennis’s memory, all I have to do is smile…

And draw a pair of wings.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

147 Responses to The Death of a Dear Friend

  1. Mitch, you have written a beautiful eulogy for your friend, Dennis. As a retired legal secretary, I’m also happy to hear of another attorney who isn’t greedy and selfish. I’ve known a few in my lifetime. You were blessed to meet Dennis. I also know the sorrow of losing someone dear in the length of a few days to COVID. Thanksgiving morning found us praying and weeping over a dear SIL who spent just about the same number of days from ER to heaven because of COVID. I’ll be praying for you and Trudy and for Dennis’s family.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m glad you wrote a tribute for Dennis, Mitch. He was the sweetest of men, humble and full of love.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful tribute to a dear friend. I’m sure you made him smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Now I’m praying, too. For his family, for you, and all feeling this sudden, tragic loss. Peace and comfort.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. katey26 says:

    So sorry for your loss

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful tribute, Mitch. X

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Anna says:

    Beautiful tribute to your friend. God bless. -Anna

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Jenn says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a friend who sounds like beautiful soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So sorry for the loss of a good friend. May God continue to bless you with healing memories, that bring joy to your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thotaramani says:

    One thing I felt is Life is so precious. Don’t know when God pulls us near him but all we have to do is Grateful and spend each moment in Life. May God Give peace to his family and Soothing affection from other friends in the world

    Liked by 1 person

  11. gregoryjoel says:

    I’m sorry for your loss Mitch. There are no words…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. So sorry about this!
    May God grant his loved ones the fortitude to bear the loss. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Carla says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of your friend Dennis. I pray for strength and comfort for you and the rest of his family and friends.


  14. Heartbreaking to loose a friend 💔

    Liked by 1 person

  15. themeonnblog says:

    My sincere condolences…may you experience God’s peace, comfort and strength.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Doug Hubbuch says:

    Such a fine and fitting tribute, Mitch. I got to know Dennis because our kids were close growing up, but I really learned about the person he was during the eight years we spent together in a Father’s Ministry small group. Dennis was one of the kindest, most genuine people I have ever had the privilege to know and call a friend. Count me among the many who will miss him dearly.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Anne Sandler says:

    What a wonderful tribute to a dear friend. I hope you continue to smile when you think of him. Thank you for visiting and following my blog. Take care and stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Aloziepositive says:

    Words most times are not enough to express how we feel, but it is better to let it out. I pray God comforts his family.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Ron Bouchard says:

    Touched by each other’s lives. Blessings from heaven. In reality, it is the touch of God . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Pingback: The Kingdom of Joy | Mitch Teemley

  21. Well said. I didn’t even know him, but feel the loss and pain through your words.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. You added feathers to his angel wings with this loving story.

    Liked by 1 person

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