Bad Week Part 2: Death

Or, as my friend spencercourt would say, it was a good week since none of the bad stuff happened to me.  I didn’t die, nor did my house burn down. 

I’ve previously posted that my blog friend Jim Dougan, aka The Hippie Professor, died suddenly on Sunday (the same day as the fire!), only I didn’t know it until Tuesday afternoon when one of his friends posted the information as a comment on Jim’s last blog.  All week his friends have been posting photos of him on Facebook, including a couple of videos of him with his rock band. 

I first “met” HP, as I called him, on July 3rd, when he posted several comments on the blog I wrote about Ayn Rand.  I had just finished the latest biography of her, called “Ayn Rand and the World She Made”.  HP confessed that he often blog-surfed, looking for conservatives against whom he could test his wits.  He loved debate, and if he had a “flaw”, I’d say that was it.  I thought he took way too much abuse from the extremists with whom he engaged.  However, even those people could not help but be moved by his loss, and many posted comments on that last blog saying how much they would miss him, and how his enduring civility (though he could get mad on occasion) set an example we should all follow. 

So when he clicked on my Ayn Rand post, he found a kindred spirit and an ally rather than a foe as he expected.  The strength of my grief over his death has surprised me.  It seems sort of silly to be this sad over someone you never met.  I still can’t explain it.  Maybe it’s because I’m feeling more vulnerable than usual.  I lost my friend Judith in July and my dog Abigail in September, and it just sort of felt like the last straw.  I need everything to slow down for a while.  I don’t need anyone else to die right now, before I can gather up some resistance and immunity. 

On Friday, I had the marvelous experience of meeting another of my blog friends for the first time–ptfan1.  He said there were very few people in blogworld he would want to meet in person, which I recognized as the honor intended.  I certainly feel the same way.  Pt and I have butted heads on many an occasion, and I have at times completely exasperated him (and vise versa!)  But still…he stuck with it, and underlying it all, I recognized the essential goodness and complexity of the man.  So yes, he was a person I wanted to meet.  And he said, it sounds like Jim was one of those people you would have wanted to meet too.  Yes.  Now that will never happen.  I guess I am sad by the fact that his voice has been silenced forever, and so suddenly.

Below, I’m copying Jim’s obituary, which his friend also kindly posted for us blog friends.  It’s absolutely perfect, with one exception–my pet peeve, which is it didn’t tell how he died.  Since I already knew it was a heart attack, I’ll let that go.  Whoever wrote this had a sense of humor.  What makes it unique is that it mentions his blog!  How cool is that? 

“BLOOMINGTON — James D. “Jim” Dougan, 52, 13809 Shelby Court, Bloomington, passed away at 5:18 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 10, 2010) at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, Normal.

A memorial Mass will be at 1 p.m. Monday at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Bloomington. Monsignor Doug Hennessy will officiate. Private inurnment will be at a later date. Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Calvert & Metzler Memorial Home, Bloomington, and the family will receive friends after Monday’s memorial Mass at their residence. In lieu of flowers, the family suggest memorials be made to the psychology department at Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington. Arrangements are being handled by Calvert & Metzler Memorial Home, Bloomington.

Jim was born July 5, 1958, in Seattle, Wash., the son of James and Marzelie Dudley Dougan. He married Valeri Farmer on Dec. 28, 1985, in Bellevue, Wash. She survives.

Also surviving are his mother, Marzelie Dougan, Normal; four children, Erin (Daniel Schiller) Dougan, Hornell, N.Y.; Emily Dougan, James McKay “Mac” Dougan and Ellyssa Dougan, all of Bloomington.

He was preceded in death by his father and grandparents.

Jim graduated from Seattle Prep School, Seattle, Wash., in 1976. He graduated from Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash., in 1981, with a B.S. in biology and psychology. He received his doctorate in psychology at Washington State University, Pullman, Wash. Jim did his post-doctorate work at Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind. He had been teaching psychology at Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, since 1990.

Jim was in a band “Cross the Dog,” Bloomington, which is a later version of “Knights of Crisis.” He thought he was a rock star. His passion was politics. He authored a blog, “The Hippie Professor.” He was incredibly passionate, kind and caring and never gave up on anyone. We hope he has joined a good band in heaven.

He was loved very much by his family, colleagues and students.

Online condolences may be e-mailed at http://www.calvertmemorial. com.”

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