Saturday, August 16, 2014

Rest in Peace, Jeremiah Healy

I am breaking my self-imposed blogging exile for the unhappiest of reasons.  I learned this morning that my law professor, writing mentor and dear friend Jeremiah Healy took his own life on Thursday evening.  He was only 66 years old.

I am devastated.  I wanted to say that words fail me.  But I write, and now is a time for writing about a gifted writer, one of the finest people I've ever known.

Jerry survived prostate cancer and fought a long and valiant war against depression.  It's a dark, insidious, sneaky bastard of a disease, and it attacks far too many people.  Jerry discussed depression candidly, with bravery, grace and wit.

I studied with Jerry at the New England School of Law.  His civil procedure class was the most rigorous course I ever took.  Unlike half my classmates in that pre-Google era, I had no idea that he wrote mystery novels.  I was terrified of him.  But he was brilliant and funny and forgiving, and he made me tougher, which was part of his job.  I respected him immediately, and grew to admire him.

Writing was clearly Jerry's calling.  I read his John Francis Cuddy series over the summer between my first and second years, and began talking writing with him shortly afterward.  I was writing short stories at the time, and I wanted to write novels.  Jerry had published both, so he spoke from deep experience on how to make that transition.

Years later, when I was finally attempting my first novel, I reached out to Jerry for guidance on the publishing process.  Jerry had left the law school by then, but he remained a natural teacher and became a dear and trusted friend.

Over drinks one evening, as I sought his advice, Jerry told me that after he had written his first novel, he got in touch with one of his heroes, the late, great Robert B. Parker, author of the Spenser For Hire series.  Jerry recounted Bob's suggestions, on literary items large and small, for hours.  Our later conversations were equally golden.

Every time I started a new project, I e-mailed Jerry.  I shared every milestone with him.  Our semi-regular meetings over drinks stopped when Jerry moved to Florida, but our e-mail correspondence, though infrequent, was deep and rich, resonant with Jerry's wisdom and humor, which he tossed off as if it were nothing important.

I have lost count of the number of writers who have told me similar stories of Jerry's kindness.  In the coming days and weeks, we will hear many more.  I will cherish all of them.  But I will miss my friend.

I last exchanged e-mails with Jerry in May, around his birthday, and we "talked," as we always did, of writing.  He had read parts of my earlier novels and was eager to learn about my work in progress and my next project.  As usual, Jerry delivered some perfect suggestions.

I had no idea that those e-mails would be my last conversation with my friend.

Jerry mentored dozens, likely hundreds of writers in this way.  When we wondered why, he would give some version of, "Bob Parker helped me, and all he asked in return was that I help another writer.  So please do the same when it's your turn."

That was Jerry's version of paying it forward, and he paid it in full.

Jerry was my Bob Parker, and I remain eternally grateful for his wisdom, his counsel, his humor, and his friendship.

I am lucky to have had such a mentor.  I am luckier to have had such a friend.

For more information on depression and suicide prevention, start with the National Suicide Prevention LifelineFamilies for Depression Awareness is another excellent resource.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness would welcome donations in Jerry's memory.


Monday, September 03, 2012

Speaking of Kids We Can Brag About...

The Middle Child turned 14 today.  You last read about him here.  I also blogged about his birthday in this post.  As with Oldest Son, it's hard to remember where the time has gone.

We're about to head for dinner with the same crew, including Middle Child's buddy with the same birthday.  Table for nine this year, instead of ten, because Oldest Son is officially away at college.

To quote a great writer not named Bruce Springsteen, the Middle Child is still crazy after all these years.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm proud of you; I love you; I'm lucky to be your father.



Friday, June 08, 2012


OK, not really.  This isn't a placeholder.  This is an actual update.  But who knows when I'll update again?

It's been more than 4 and a half years since I suspended blogging.  (That's Springsteen shows 13-19, if you're scoring at home.)

I interrupt this blog hiatus to announce that Oldest Son has graduated from high school.  (He was in eighth grade when you last read about him here.)  He'll be attending St. Louis University in August.  We'll celebrate his epic new adventure with a Springsteen concert at Fenway (which will make 20 Boss shows for me and two for Oldest Son).

I think the late, great Nick Alicino would be happy to hear this.

The Saint, Middle Child and Daughter are all doing well, too, and I have a great deal to share about all of them.  Soon, I hope.

But back to Oldest Son, for a moment, if you'll continue to indulge a proud father.  I last wrote about him in detail here, on his 14th birthday.

Everything I said then remains true today, and truest of all is the punch line from that birthday card:

Thanks for being a son your parents can brag about.

Love you, Buddy.


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Saturday, November 28, 2009

2 Years Burnin' Down the Road

I can't believe it's been two years since I suspended this blogging effort.

That's a bunch of Springsteen concerts, a few hundred thousand words of writing, and some spectacular memories with The Saint and the kids.

I'll share them soon. I promise.


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Sunday, November 30, 2008

My, How Time Flies

Has it really been a year?

I suppose it has, though I can't believe it.

We're all fine. Hope you are, too.

See you in another year.



Sunday, November 25, 2007

Taking My Leave

I'll be taking a long break from blogging, so this will be the last post you'll read here for a while. I've been doing this, more or less regularly, since the first week of December, 2005. It's been more fun than I'd like to admit, but I must stop.

I'm beginning an exciting new job tomorrow (I've never named clients or employers here--past, current or future-- and I'm not about to start). I will say that I'm thrilled to have this great opportunity, which allows me to return to what I've done for most of my career. I want to hit the ground running, and as much as I've enjoyed this ongoing conversation with you (have I mentioned how much fun this has been?), I need to make sure I'm devoting my energies to my new position.

This blog will stay up, but I won't be adding to it regularly, if ever again. If there are new posts, they'll be very sporadic. I'll still be around, but I won't be checking in as much. I won't be commenting on your blogs, either.

If I have publishing news, I'll e-mail you.

In the meantime, if you'd like to reach me, feel free to e-mail me here.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you've enjoyed these discussions as much as I have.



Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

We're in Fly Creek with family and friends today. Beautiful weather, great aromas from the kitchen, and everyone's healthy.

On the menu: Turkey with both traditional and cornbread and sausage stuffing. My mother has two birds, so I made cornbread and sausage stuffing to go into one.

My mother's famous oysters will disappear within minutes, as they do every year. The Saint has produced a low-fat version of her favorite green bean casserole.

There are too many other things to mention. My mother is hosting 31 people at her house this year, so she's transformed her garage into a banquet hall.

Tomorrow night, we have cocktails with my cousins and then dinner with Captain Ed Novak and a bunch of other friends. We head back to Boston on Saturday because Oldest Son makes his CYO basketball debut.

I am thankful for more than the usual this year. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving, too.


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