The sadness we feel at the passing of a special person is usually a selfish sadness; sad for us, for the missing, for the grieving, for the fact that we're now without their living presence. It's also an empathetic sadness; sadness for those left behind, sadness for the impact that one person's death will make in a great doppler effect of emotion.
I'm saddened by David Schnaufer's passing for so many different reasons. The great work that he's accomplished as a historian and teacher of the mountain dulcimer, it was only just beginning. Though many will carry on his work, who will have the passion that David had for the instrument? Fortunately, he taught and trained many in the ways of Dulcimer Discipleship, so the torch is far from going out. Still - they say when the old wise men, the griots of African tribes, pass from this earth, it's like an entire library burning to the ground. So much insight, wisdom, experience, knowledge, gone with a breath of fire. Ashes to ashes. I'm sad that David won't be able to continue his quest.
Having never met him, I'm sad to say now that I never will. Although he is part of his music, and in that, I know him well. And he is part of every performance captured on film or video, he's part of the teachings of others who have learned directly from him and he's a part of the very fabric of Dulcimer Culture.
In this way, he'll always be alive and available for future generations of dulcimer players. For having lived, he is perpetually with us.