First Thing in the Morning Mourning

 

 

Have you ever taken a break from FaceBook and then come back to FaceBook…

 

And then saw a friend of yours tag another friend of yours…

 

And then thought: hey what’s up with that friend, haven’t seen him in a year…

 

And then realize he had died.

 

Russell Ray Slouffman

 

I cannot tell you how hard I cried this morning scrolling through all the bereft posts on his page. Howled. It’s not over. I’m still crying. I don’t even have to squint, tears are flowing from my resting neutral face and landing on my damp hair and pajamas.

I have to tell you about Russell.

Russell Ray Slouffman

 

Russell was an angel. Not like the halo-wearing kind, but the kind of angel surrounded by light at all times. He lit up every room he entered. His energy was infectious and I absolutely LOVED being in his presence. He was magical.

 

Russell Ray Slouffman

 

Russell was a performer, both onstage and off, entertaining anyone lucky enough to be in proximity to him. He dated a very good friend of mine from college and I got the opportunity to take their headshots together in Red Rock Canyon.

 

Russell Ray Slouffman

 

This was such a meaningful experience for me.

I love to combine my strong desire to help my friends and be artistically creative. Russell made this day extraordinarily light and fun. He had this natural ability to simultaneously deliver and enhance; when I wasn’t shooting him, he was using his energy to bring all of our spirits up.

 

Russell Ray Slouffman

 

That was just how Russell was…he was always working…but his work was love…and light. He was ALIVE. To be in his presence made you feel more alive, too. We laughed the whole time, my face hurt from smiling so hard and focusing the camera.

 

Russell Ray Slouffman

 

When I asked my friend to join me, to dance in the One Billion Rising for V-Day Flash Mob, he said yes and made a point to tell me that Russell was so excited. I cannot tell you how that made my heart swoon—swoon? Yeah, it swooned. When I ask people to volunteer for V-Day, usually I either get a ‘not this time’ or an ‘okayyyyyy’…but Russell was excited…he was so pumped for every single aspect of this.

 

Russell Ray Slouffman

 

If you knew Russell, you would know that a Flash Mob is right up his ally. He showed up like he always did, radiating light with this confidence that made you want to be around him forever.

 

Russell Ray Slouffman

Russell Ray Slouffman

 

My first time Flash Mob nerves melted into laughter and excitement; Russell helped me get out of my head and into the moment.

 

Russell Ray Slouffman

Russell Ray Slouffman

 

Russell showed me what it looks like to be ALIVE.

 

Russell Ray Slouffman

 

Before my last Facebook hiatus, I was very closely following Russell and his dream to read every single Stephen King novel. I thought that was so cool. I have read many of those same novels and appreciated his appetite for more books!

 

This morning, when I saw my friend tag Russell on FaceBook, it reminded me that I hadn’t seen him posting about his novel reading status in a long time and it hit me—you probably didn’t add him as a friend when you rejoined FaceBook—so, I clicked on his name thinking I would add him and get all caught up on what he had been reading…which shows he would be performing in…

 

I did not expect to see so many people mourning Russell. How could I? How could this happen? I don’t understand. I began to sob instantaneously, thinking about how I was not done…I intended to hug him again…I had plans to be in his presence more…

 

Russell Ray Slouffman

 

You don’t understand. Russell was an angel. It was healing to be in his presence. I am crying so hard as I type this out…oh Russell, do you see and feel my grief??? It’s not just me, it’s almost been one whole year since you’ve been gone and there are so many people aching from losing you.

 

Russell Ray Slouffman

 

Many people are using this god-picking-flowers analogy for you, Russell…I had never even heard this one before and MANY people are using it to describe what has happened here. I get it. Put Russell in a crowd and he does shine the brightest.

 

Russell Ray Slouffman

 

I don’t really pick flowers though, I let them grow.

 

This is what I will be doing with our relationship from now on, Russell, allowing it to grow. I feel you. I hear you. I will not resist that. It’s okay to cry because I can’t hug you or watch you perform onstage. It’s not okay to convince myself that it all ends here because that is simply not true. Relationships never die.

 

I’ll hold you in my heart forever and feel so much lighter as a result.

 

Thank you.

 

XO,

Rachel

Russell Ray Slouffman

 

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