brni (brni) wrote,

i got a call tonight

My cell rang this evening, a number I didn't recognize. I answered. Almost didn't recognize the voice on the other side. It was an old co-worker, from my days at Netaxs, Michael. I worked with him for years, been friends for longer, and I've taken calls where he was happy, excited, worried, confused. This time he sounded shaky.

Another co-worker, Len Sassaman, died this weekend. He had worked for Netaxs for only a couple months. Bright kid, spent a summer with us before heading out west to seek his fortune. With us for a short while, but he made an impression. Of late, he'd been dividing his time between Belgium and the SF bay area. Michael was calling because they were trying to put together a memorial service for him, and, after one particularly horrible day at Netaxs, back in 2002, I somehow ended up organizing and leading a memorial service for George "Grr" Robbins. I knew I couldn't bear to try to run the thing myself, so I based it on the funeral of one of my professors from Temple, Ron Hathaway. It was the first Quaker meeting I had ever been to, and in the context of a funeral, had been incredibly powerful, without the preachy, condescending bullshit of most funerals I've been to.

I remember Len, walking down the hall in the office in Lee Park, long hair pulled back in a ponytail, trench coat billowing out behind him, an iguana perched on his shoulder. I've never met a gentler iguana (and I've owned a few, and have the scars to prove it), and I think that was a reflection of Len.

I didn't know him well, or deeply, though we were in sporadic touch across the years. For me, that's the image of Len I'll keep with me. For the rest of you, if you want to know who he was, go; watch; listen. Len's the one with the beard.
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