give anything for this day not to have come. My heart aches
for all of us, and especially for Nat. Nat, I am so grateful
to you. You gave Rustys whole life a deeper meaning, just
by being you. Rusty told me he was greatly comforted by you,
that he prayed with all his soul, and believed, that you were
going to be okay. At the end of his battle, he told you that
his body had betrayed him. You said, but not your spirit.
I hope you realize what a wonderful thing that was for you to
say, not only because its true, but because your dad got
to hear you say it. He saw what a fine person you are, and I
know he was proud that you were his one child born in this world,
to carry on. I love you Nat.
Alison, I want to thank you, on behalf of all of the people
who love Rusty, for taking such good care of him during his
illness. No one will ever know how difficult it was, and what
it must have taken out of you, nor will anyone know what a blessing
it was for you to be the one by his side to the end of his life.
You made his journey as gentle as it could possibly have been,
not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually. When you
gave Rusty the Sweet Appreciation party in May, you gave him
a piece of heaven on earth. I really dont see how life
could get any better than that party. The next day, he told
me he was still floating on air, that he felt humbled and in
awe of the love that had been showered on him. A few days later,
when he received terrible news of his cancer having spread,
he told me that he couldnt even get very upset about it,
because he was still cushioned by his joy about the party. God,
he loved you for that. And when he came to see your March
of the Falsettos reunion performance in January, he told
me that he remembered being invited to see the original show
20 years ago, and that for some reason he missed it. Just
think, he said, if I had gone to that, I would have
fallen in love with Alison two years earlier than I did, and
we might have been together 20 years ago. He had this
look on his face that I remember so well from the first time
he described you to me, after hed fallen in love with
you for the first time.
During his last days, you moved mountains to ensure that he
would have dignity, comfort, and even joy. When he was frightened,
you were his rock. When he could no longer speak, you read his
mind. He left us with a smile on his face, because of you. Now
that he is gone, youve been comforting me, far more than
Ive been able to comfort you. Thank you, Alison. You are
a sister of my soul, and I love you dearly.
deeply honored to be speaking about Rusty today. And my heart
is broken. Ive loved Rusty Magee since the day I met him
27 years ago, in Jim Barnhills acting class, our junior
year at Brown, and I will love him until the day I die. Most
people forget their first loves, or remember them fondly and
faintly. Not Rusty. If Rusty Magee once loved you, ever, at
any age, he never stopped loving you. When our college romance
ended, it was transformed into a lifelong friendship that we
cherished forever. I could always count on him to be my true
friend. It was impossible for me to ever stop loving him, which
I know many of us here today can understand. He was just so
lovable. He was so passionate about so many things in life.
I found a letter he wrote when he was in college. I want
so many things! He wrote, his pen almost breaking through
the paper. I want to be a great composer, I want to be
an eminent musicologist, I want to be an entertainer
life he fought the passing of time. He started cherishing the
past when he was about 11. He wrote the song, Im
Getting Too Old when he turned 21. He wrote an elegy
for the long-playing album when everyone had left it behind
for the compact disc. And under his spell, we all fell in love
with a brown-eyed girl, who maybe didnt have brown eyes,
who maybe wasnt even a girl.
One of his songs he wrote as a teenager is called, I Wonder
if Joannes Back in Ann Arbor. He would play that,
and I would say
Youre SURE she wasnt
ever your girlfriend? I didnt understand, yet, that
with Rusty, no one is ever just a friend. A friend,
to Rusty, was a sacred thing. Anyone else might idly wonder
if an old pal was in town that week; Rusty made a song from
that, a heart-tugging song of wistfulness about times
inevitable march, and about the fragility of high school friendship.
(And of course, Joanne English is still his friend, and shes
probably here today.) There was a little girl who sat next to
Rusty in elementary school, whom he loved with all his heart.
She was the little red-haired girl to Rustys Charlie Brown.
They lost touch after 9th grade, but when Rusty became ill,
Josh found her for him. He surprised Rusty one day, and there
she was, waiting for Rusty in his apartment. And Carole Helms
reentered his life to stay, after an absence of more than 30
years, and shes speaking here tonight.
all his childhood friends. He may have kept all his childhood
acquaintances, I dont know. I do know that all of us in
his inner circle, (all 547 of us), we counted on Rustys
constant love, we were warmed by the knowledge that he would
never let us go from his life. We took for granted that he would
always be there for us. We never dreamed that he would be the
one to leave us.
man who wore his heart on his sleeve, there was nonetheless
something mysterious about him, something that made him at times
hard to know.
his death, Ive been searching for him in my heart and
my memories. There is one place where I feel I can always find
him, that holds the key to all his mysteries. Rustys soul
came out in his music. I have his music in my mind all the time
now, and its a great soundtrack. I listen to songs he
wrote long ago, and the sweet, simple lyrics break my heart.
He wrote a song long ago that I cant stop thinking about,
it is timeless. He recited the lyrics to me, more than once,
in the last months. I listen to the refrain, and there is a
message there from Rusty, to all of us who grieve for him. It
is a message for Alison, for Jamie and Kenny, for Bettie, for
Josh, for all of his mourners, and especially, I think, for
Nat. Here are some of the word :
on the way you did before.
Show the whole wide world
Just what you have in store.
Do what you were going to do
Before the fall.
Even though I wont be there,
You still can have it all.
I will always love you
when the days turn to years.
When youre lying there in bed
please remember all Ive said.
I will always love you
our love always will be.
And I know already you will always love me.
And I know, forever, you will always love me.
music to that song is haunting and beautiful, but Im afraid
I can never sing it without crying. I had to sing it in a show
of his music once, long ago, and I choked up toward the end,
and he jumped in and sang the rest of it for me, from the piano.
He was a little irritated with me about that. Im sure
hes irritated right now.
time I spoke to Rusty was on the phone, a few weeks ago. He
had crossed the bridge, and was beginning to say his goodbyes.
He said to me, Isnt it great to know, I loved you
to the end of my life. I promised him that I would love
him until the end of mine. That will be an easy promise to keep.
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