Forget for a moment about all the worries we face. Forget the war, the zombies, the constant deprivations we've suffered. Or even better, remember them. Yeah. Hold those horrors in your mind as you read this because they will give you contrast.
Aaron was a hell of a guy. He was tough and brave, but those were not his defining qualities. Most survivors have those features. It's almost a requirement. What set him apart was that Aaron was one of those people who only showed the iron inside when the situation demanded it. Even after The Fall he had a habit of falling into his old patterns; being soft-spoken, quietly encouraging, and kind. So very kind.
Much of who we are passes on with us. The impressions left behind are in the minds of others, and if that is the yard stick by which we judge legacy, then Aaron's mark will be felt here for generations.
That sounds hyperbolic. It isn't.
Aaron was never a heavy combatant. He fought when he had to, he worked with the rest of us, but his strength was in building a foundation more important than any wall or defense. Aaron was a teacher, a brilliant one. He examined the world around him, his own students, and himself to determine the best way to impart knowledge. More, he taught the best methods he knew to make people learn how to learn. There are children in Haven ranging in age from early childhood to early adulthood--and quite a few adult students as well--who have been shaped and forever changed by his lessons.
I know this because many of them told me so. Children who should be too young to understand death (not that the world is a kind place for that flavor of ignorance at present) have expressed their deep thankfulness that Aaron was a part of their education and their lives. Older kids called him the best teacher they ever had, one who made them want to learn, to discover and experience the world around them and drink in the understanding he showed them.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is a legacy. An enduring one. Many of his students are too young to have kids of their own, but his death has cemented those lessons in their minds for all of time. When the day comes that the younger of Aaron's students begin to raise their own children, I have no doubt at all that the joy and wonder of knowledge Aaron instilled in them will be passed on.
As a friend Aaron meant a lot to me. We worked together and while we weren't as close as brothers, there was a level of comfort and companionship I've rarely encountered and never surpassed. With Aaron you could just be yourself. No judgment, no derision. He was a man who understood on a fundamental level that people are people, worth time and respect even when you disagree. For my part, I feel guilt that I let Aaron slip from my mind for so long, but I think he would be the first to understand. When someone or something is gone from your life it tends to become vague over time.
As is so often and sadly the case, it took his death to bring him back into focus. For that I'm sorry, but if it reminds people what a truly good person looks like, what a sense of wonder and enlightenment can do to a weary soul, then I think he'd say it was worth it.
Goodbye, rest well, and I hope wherever you are now is as gentle and good as you were.