Friday, September 04, 2009

CHARLES COHEN (1937-2009)
A second life well lived

My friend Charles Cohen, 72, has died. He passed at 1:30 a.m. today and he will be buried on Sunday, September 6, in Philadelphia, not far from his parents and gradnmother, who were killed by mass murderer Howard Unruh exactly 60 years before ... September 6, 1949. The timing feels less like coincidence, more like design.

On a day I expected to sit with him and hear stories about his extraordinary life, I will instead attend his funeral.

Over the past several months, I developed great affection for Charles, who found himself suddenly alone in the world at 12 years old. Every time some deranged gunman would kill a large number of people, my phone would ring and we'd talk for a long time about what had happened. Of course, these killings aroused dark memories in Charles, but he always wanted to talk about the survivors and the families of the dead because he had a direct, empathetic connection to them. They were his family, too.

I will miss my friend, but tonight, he knows what we don't.

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