There is some news that is so senseless that it does not register, takes awhile to process in the senses. I am one of those people who pays attention to this kind of news in the headlines. But when something happens to someone you care about, there is ultimately only one bit of news that matters. That someone you cared about is gone.
I only met Professor Don Belton a couple times in my life. Once at IU when I was weighing my decision on which school to attend. And then saw him again at AWP, where he was just as happy to see me as he was to meet me in Indiana. Don struck me as the kind of person you could be close to immediately. He barely knew me and opened his home to me, told me stories about his life and his hopes. He was a friend...already. Sometimes you meet people like that, and they last in your memory forever, even if you never see them again.
There are things I want to say, which are more about me, and less about Don, and so maybe I'll reserve those things for some later date. But for now, I just wanted to dedicate this space to someone who I remember having a rolling laugh from the belly like a hot spring. And who wore a funny hat and made an adventure of going to breakfast buffet at the organic grocery store in Bloomington. And who could talk about anything in between the laughter and get serious when it was important and then laugh some more. And who I remember on a trail in Bloomington, picking at pine cones, or acorns, or whatever those tiny little blossoms were hanging off the trees in the chilly winter morning where he made me feel so at home.
Some people will just be missed like family because of their warmth, as if you'd always known them. Rest in peace Don Belton, sweet soul. Thank you for your kindness.
http://advocate.com//News/Daily_News/2009/12/29/Gay_Indiana_Professor_Murdered/: This article has mostly facts, less focus on speculation.