Dear Kevin, (1952 – 1993)
         I never know to whom I’m going to write until I 
sit down at the computer and begin. So far (except for 
#4: To the Victims of the Parkland Shooting) everyone I’ve
addressed has been a man. I don’t think this will remain
so for the duration, but I have no idea how this project
will unfold. 
         This gender unbalance is because it’s been the men
amoung my family & friends that have been doing the passing
away, not including mom (or Penny as you, the gay son, took 
the privledge of calling her) who at a sprightly 94, didn’t die
but ascended into heaven. 
         When you were born the balance of power in our house
was definitely tilted toward the boys, 4 to 1. When our older
sister, Missy, heard that you were a boy, she threw the phone 
across the room; it was her tenth birthday and she was expecting
a little baby sister.  But it soon became evident that the score
was not what it seemed to be; by the time you were five we had
added two more girls to the mix and you were busy in Missy’s
bedroom closet trying on her dresses and her budding teenage
makeup, then you’d make a grand entrance down the steps into our
Victorian living room whenever we had company.  We started
saying that the Lallys had 3 boys, 3 girls and Kevin. 
         Kevin, do you remember Sister Mary George from fifth grade?
She played basketball with the boys everyday and had suspicions
about your manhood. She came to our house one day and told  
mom & dad that there was something wrong with you and they’d
better fix it.  They told her that, like the flying nun, she should 
take a flying leap. But not to disparage S.M.G. too much,  your 
own brothers were far worse. One of our sisters recently  
told me that you told her that we had once held your head in  
the toilet and flushed it, screaming: “Grow up.” “Stop acting like
a girl.” “Don’t be a sissy.”   I have scant memory of this, but with
Manic Mike leading the way, I’m sure I was capable of such
family facism.  Since I was four years older than you, I can’t 
plead innocent, so belatedly I ask forgiveness.
         Since Mike died in 2015 our family score is now girls ahead
3 to 1. Our sisters are kindly tolerant of such an old curmudgeon
as myself, but I sure miss you guys, even all the craziness that   
mom used to call “knock-down and drag-out.”  I don’t know what
gene caused all four boys to try poetry but it sure has been 
revealatory going through all these old writings. So Kevin, I’ll
end with your words from the pages of a Bay Area Anthology
of poems written by HIV positive people. Mom tore them out
and saved them in that Metaphors(tm) shoe box.  Ha. Ha.

Till next time,

Knowing The Teacher
                                              by Kevin Lally,  June 1993

 Look, look at death.
Touch it, let it touch you,
it is the door to your heart.
Accept, accept death.
Do not fight it, do not pretend that
        it is not there.

Practice, practice death.
Every day, like the piano
                     like your dance lessons
Know, know death.
Know it in all your life
                in all your grasping
                in all your letting go
Open, open to death
like the tree with the soil
                         with the rain
                         with the sun.