James died on April 8, 2005. He was not quite seventy. I always thought James was a rather unusual name for a German, but then again, his name wasn’t really James. It was Hans. But it wasn’t really Hans either. Because of the personal details of James’s story, I need to disguise certain names and places. So I’ll call him Hans. Hans Meister. But he went by James, and sometime in late April 2005 I opened a letter from Germany and found inside a single sheet of off-white paper with a heavy, black border and a rough cross in the upper left-hand corner.
James’s second wife (or perhaps third of fourth for all I know), was thoughtful enough to send me notice of his passing. She was not a member of the Church. I had never met her. Before he remarried, James had moved far from the city where he and I met. So I was surprised his widow would think to send me word of his death. Surprised and glad. And sad.