Pietisten

Tribute for Blake Stromberg

by Peter Olson

Good night, sweet prince. You were a gentleman beyond compare. You were one of the first, closest, and lasting friends I made in those tender, volatile first days of college. You instantly became a trusted companion and confidant, someone I felt inherently safe and comfortable with. You made me smile inwardly (if not outwardly) whenever I saw you. You laughed with me and made me laugh in equal measure. You made many things more bearable than they would have been had you not been your affable, amiable self. You played a significant role in many of the fondest memories of my adult life. And amidst all of it, you loved me for who I was—the greatest gift anyone can give to another person.

You put up with a lot of silly, stupid shit from your friends with remarkable, admirable grace and unparalleled good humor—and I never heard or saw you say or do a hurtful thing to another human being, at least not on purpose. You

didn’t know it (hell, I don’t think I knew it until now), but to me you were always an exemplar of kindness, humility, and human decency, and remained so long after we lost touch with one another.

Most importantly, you were always good to me — always. You never failed me once in that regard.

In the end, you were not without your demons. (Who among us is?) I won’t pretend to know which of them plagued you most—I won’t dare come close. And I won’t have the audacity to pretend that I can see into the hearts of your family members or any other close friends who are now mourning you, many of whom are most assuredly experiencing an even greater degree of grief than I am. I can only say that for me, the void you have left cannot be filled, but that’s not your fault. It’s only because of who you were: an incomparable, irreplaceable, and true friend.

Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.