Dear Dr. Lovell,

It’s me, Lorena. Are you there?

I could never refer to you as Jonathan because mighty people like you deserve their titles.  I have to swallow hard after I say, text, scribble or write Jonathan because it feels like a curse word.

Dr. Lovell, I never told you so many things because you were supposed to be here longer. Keysone told me you had so much more life left. And I agreed. And now we are here, wiping the tears because you took us by surprise.

Dr. Lovell, you brought comfort with your white hair, boyish grin (something everyone is commenting about), sparkly eyes, dress shirt, blazer, slacks and sneakers.  The way you sat was comforting too: one leg thrown over the other so we could all gaze at the sneakers you were wearing that day and wonder if we too could be as cool as you and combine business dress with sneakers. And sometimes the way you gazed into your laptop was comforting. Especially when you had that particular smile, the one of cooking up a devilish deed while you stared at the computer screen. What would you be looking at? Could you tell me?

Dr. Lovell, the pain of sitting in a circle and playing the name game is only a sliver of what we all remember about you. Who is going to make us do this now? You never started any ISI, Advanced ISI or just any other gathering without this ritual. I bet you’re torturing others with it right now. But of course it makes sense that this was your game. You. Remembered. Everyone. You made connections faster than any dendrite and held on to them in ways not yet studied by science. How did you remember and stay in touch with so many people? Including the little people? But that is another thing about you…

Dr. Lovell, why did you make everyone feel like they mattered? You talked to everyone. You gave everyone the same level of attention. It didn’t bother you in the slightest if they were disheveled in appearance, not as well read as you, immature, socially inadequate, ill-mannered or just not as smart. You welcomed everyone to the name game, the reading and the writing. You did it with ease. You always knew what to say and would toss in one of those chuckles of yours. Just with your presence you made people feel important.

Dr. Lovell, I just have one more comment. In the brief moment that you were here, much like the gust of air that you kicked up when you whipped through the halls on your roller skates, you did so much good to so many people that your inbox is going to flood. I hope you enjoy the writing. I suggest you curl up with a box of Oreos, your favorite pair of sneakers and maybe forgo the blazer for a cozy PJ top with matching bottoms and then, with that up-to-no-good grin, start reading.

My very best from a very little person,


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