John MontacueDear Johnny:

I have to admit that over the last several days I have thought of you relentlessly. Love is not easy to write and my heart grasps for that which seemingly cannot be said. Johnny, regardless of your challenges and difficulties, I found you to be such a beautiful person.  Your laughter, enjoyment, love of guitar and politics were my first thoughts.

In a beautiful way, Johnny seemed bigger than life. I remember you with a grasp that remains elusive to me.  You were able to touch and bond with people in ways I never could. And in truth, in many ways, you are and remain more the man than I will ever become.  All of us has themes which pour throughout the stories of life. Yet, I have found everything changes but change itself.  What I loved most about you Johnny was the unchangeable. Like many before could attest, I found an uncommon bond. Like me, you could understand those in pain; like me, you could understand the strength in overcoming disability; and like all of us, you struggled and fought through many difficulties. Yet you overrode common thoughts of being puny or weak.

No one knew better in the power of words. Your ability to see and cut through tedious political rhetoric was astounding and remains for me today as a guide. Your intellect was deep, often requiring considerable effort and gave hope to those embattled in life’s struggle. You relished learning and public service. And while often feeling slighted, I believe you experienced satisfaction in knowing character contributed greatly to the direction and success of your students. You taught them well.

As I flew over the Rocky Mountains this morning, I looked down upon all the masses. The seeds of your life lay not in some uncommon burial ground in Southern Illinois. Rather your spirit and life remains stowed in the treasure chest of all our hearts. We embrace you and remain a treasure all would have been honored to know.

Unfortunately, some of the brightest flames burn quicker courses. But your flame forever etched my soul. Oh Abba, wherever Johnny resides, I know he has the immortality of love surrounding him and I believe that because we live, he lives.  As I looked upon stars the stars, I remember an Eskimo legend:

Perhaps they are not the stars,

But rather openings in heaven where,

The love of our lost ones pours through,

And shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.

Johnny, I will always carry you in my heart.

With Love … your friend.