Kennedy Smith, 1971 – 2012

It was in 2010, when his humor reached out and made me shoot coffee out my nose. Ricochet’s Managing Editor at the time, James Poulos, had posted an “Assignment Desk” post, asking members what sort of topics they would like to see covered by which writers. Kennedy Smith unsheathed a rapier sharp wit, and went to work:

Well clearly, there’s a glaring gap in our coverage when VDH hasn’t weighed in on Linsdey Lohan. Let’s see, Dave Carter has been strangely silent on the Salzburg Festival production of Ariadne auf Naxos. Ursula’s got the Waziri desk pretty well manned. Rob should explain the role that the undervaluation of the yuan plays in our economic troubles. Peter would be a natural to infiltrate the New Black Panthers (he and Tucker could work shifts). Thinking outside the box. I volunteer to follow the trail of Michelle on the Costa del Sol. We get expenses, right?

What does one do except marvel at the versatility, the mischief, and the sheer energy of such a mind? Well, one can thank God above that we get occasional glimpses of the fire of a truly bright spirit. Which we do today, though saddened by the news that this particular fire in the night has been called home. We received the news a short time ago that Ricochet Member Kennedy Smith passed away earlier today.

Last summer, his health took a serious turn as he spent an extended time in ICU. Prayers on Ricochet, Facebook, and throughout his universe of friends and family were said on his behalf. Recovering at home in August, he wrote on Facebook: 

Amazing, the number of friends I’ve suddenly discovered. Had no idea the number of people I’ve inadvertently touched (sorry about that; good luck suing), both in real life and on the internet. I have the rare opportunity to know that my funeral will be well-attended. Trouble is, there’s been a marked decline [in] the ratings since I moved from somewhat likely to die to somewhat likely to live. I need a new hook. Something catchy.

Well, it wasn’t a hook, but rather his own faith and family that kindled Kennedy’s spirit in recent months. On an October trip to Mass, he writes: 

On our whirlwind tour of local churches, ere I settle back at my place and choose a parish, we hied ourselves up Lookout Mountain to Our Lady of the Mount. Catholics who still have a certain Episcopal staidness. Not demonstrative, but reliably well-dressed.

The decor: fresh, wooden, mountainy. Lots of nice friezes, including a striking St Francis near the altar. I prayed for Maggie.

Music, always important to me. Piano & singer. Much better than a damned guitar, unsuitable for non-hippie churches. Started off with a ragtime playfulness, then calypso, then British Imperial for the majestic bits. Got a standing ovation at the end. Looked for a tip jar during Eucharist, but he didn’t have one.

Pastor, a genial old buffer, pleasant to meet & greet, with a dog.

Homily, a strong stance on the sanctity of marriage, which suited the readings. Not backing down, though he did say “doesn’t matter what the government does.”

Eucharist: being lazy, I like them to stick it on my tongue directly. Though I think they honestly prefer to stick it in your hand (creeping Episcopalianism) I’m leaning on a cane, dammit! Which I then hooked around my arm to bow to the wine lady, who gave a nice blessing

And, from his Facebook page, we see the happy announcement in November that the Smith family had welcomed a new member: 

For unto us a son is born. Unto us a son is given. And the Government shall be upon his shoulder, And his name shall be called Campbell! Montgomery! Smith! The Mighty God, the Prince of Peace.

Yes, Young Master Campbell has arrived, and he is pissed. Heart surgery does that to a kid. A true Smith, he’s a fighter. Defiant little guy. Gonna be a handful, I suspect.

Bizarrely, no damned pictures have been included on Campbell’s or my Mother’s announcement. You’d think, you’d just think, somebody would have a picture attached to a Nativity Announcement.

As I wrote to Peter and Rob a little while ago, Earth is less of a happy place tonight without Kennedy Smith here. But Heaven, on the other hand, must be positively sparkling with celestial zingers right now. God be with this man’s strong and loving family. And may God grant comfort to those who are now in shock that such an indomitable and larger-than-life gentleman is no longer with us, saddened by the sudden loss we feel, but grateful to have seen that fire illuminate our night, and hopeful that we will enjoy our friend’s company again in a place that knows neither darkness nor sorrow. Rest in peace, my friend. We will miss you.