I am someone who fell in love with Pat Conroy more than 30 years ago. It started with the Prince of Tides, and the love affair continued, as it does to this day. I deeply understood his descriptions of betrayal and abuse, followed by love and troubled acceptance. Reading his novels was like coming home, conversing with a loved one who lived my life, and knew.
I visited Beaufort the year before his death, walked where he walked, felt his stories of the marshes, shrimp boats, and beauty of the south come alive before my eyes. I felt a longing for home, that sense of wishing that you really belonged somewhere. I placed flowers on his father’s grave, and said a prayer for a family that I never knew, and yet, somehow I did…
I miss him greatly, think of him often, and pray that his family is doing ok. I want them to know how many lives he touched, how many people he saved through his words, so achingly sad, but somehow so healing for our souls.
I have a journal from my childhood, one of the entries says “Some memories harbor deep within your soul, where sunlight never touches, and tears flow continuously… like a waterfall for no one to see, except your heart for it understands a sorrow so deep that only you know the depth of its meaning…” Somehow, I feel Pat would have understood that perfectly.
While walking on the beach I hear the song “Save the last dance for me” and images of “Beach Music” dance through my mind. I call to my dog Savannah and thoughts of “the great poet Savannah Wingo” bring a smile to my heart. I could go on but the greatest emotion I feel at times is just overwhelming loss. To accept that we will never again embrace and love a Pat Conroy character is at times unimaginable. Looking forward to the next wonderful, sad, complex, tragic, joyful story was always such a delicious anticipation.
And this is from someone who only knew him through the characters he made come to life in the pages of a book. I can only imagine what it is like for you.
Thank you for keeping his memory alive.
Julie B. – Pacific Palisades, CA