I often went over to watch election returns with Michael Hurst. He was a Republican, and I a Democrat; he a devoted Southerner, and I a “Massachusetts-American,” as he said. We disagreed on almost everything about national politics and agreed on almost everything local. These election nights were special to me, because it was a great opportunity to argue with Michael. Believe me, there’s nothing two Irish Catholics can possibly enjoy more than arguing about politics. A favorite trophy of mine was a bottle of Maker’s Mark I won off him in a sucker bet over Christine O’Donnell. After the results would come in and the fun and games were over, we’d sit up late and talk about the things that really mattered–our families, our lives, the state of our souls. “We’re really quite alike,” he told me on one of those evenings. It was among the best compliments I have ever gotten. You are gone now, Michael, and I will miss you, and every election night I will think of you. Ave atque vale, frater. With any luck, when the final results come in, I will see you again on the other side.
They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead;
They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed;
I wept, as I remembered, how often you and I
Had tired the sun with talking, and sent him down the sky.
And now that thou art lying, my dear Kentucky guest,
A handful of grey ashes, long, long ago at rest,
Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales, awake;
For Death, he taketh all away, but them he cannot take.