In Memoriam

"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."

These words have been tumbling around my head since Damon died. He was a great man and a great friend. If I had to describe Damon in one short sentence, I might say: He moved through life with an open heart and an open mind.

Being with Damon was interesting because time didn't pass in the conventional sense, in hours and minutes and so forth; instead, the whole linear concept of time sort of melted away and you found yourself just being with Damon, having a wonderful time. It was always a pleasure to be in his company, never boring, never tense. He was a joy to be around, and he was easy to be with.

I think he was an enlightened being. I think he had a profound understanding of what it is to be alive and to be human, and he conducted himself accordingly. Damon seemed to love everyone, and everyone seemed to love him. He was humble, he was authentic, and he was unique.

"I have received," is how Damon summed up his life. It's a fitting epitaph for him because it's generous, poetic, and true. The reason he could say such a thing is because he gave so much. He gave freely and with great pleasure.

Damon was a gifted storyteller, and one of the fortunate things about that is that he left a lot of himself behind, for us to enjoy. His two great works on the web are Rareybird, where he touchingly shares his parents' story, and Alum Falls, where he humorously tells his own.

I'm thankful that my life intersected with Damon's. He remains an inspiration to me, a man I aspire to be like. I used to call him "Brotherman," and I still love him like a brother.

Michael Kalantarian

Postscript: I'd like to share the last email I received from Damon, in late October, still nearly a month before anyone realized that CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease) was killing him.

Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002
From: Damon Rarey <>

Thought I would let you know - I'm starting my third week of a vertigo-type malady of some kind. Dizziness, lurching walk, have had to suspend school and work due to lack of mental acuity. I can read for short periods of time, but not too much. Not too uncomfortable - fairly mild - but becoming a major bore. Much like walking into another room to get something and forgetting why you came in. But all the time and you don't have to go into the other room.

I get an MRI Wednesday. Doubt it will do more than rule out a few of the more dreadful possibilities. My symptoms seem to resemble what others have found to be viral. Goes away on its own after some indeterminate period. Who knows? Typing requires some real concentration and a whole lot of digital white-out. Conversation not difficult as long as things don't get too abstract.