Emmet James Morgan, Jr. died way too young, suddenly, in his sleep at 61. As the host of his memorial today said, “He wasn’t a celebrity, he was a celebration.”
Emmett really knew how to love: how to give it, receive it, cultivate it, and I think quite possibly brew it up in some elixir form. I don’t think anyone who knew him would be surprised if someone found a vial locked up in a secret vault soon. He adored his friends and family. If they all embarked on a genuine competition to find out who among them he loved the most, they would all end up lying in a pile, exhausted with laughter and love. But, one love that no one would even want to challenge, even in jest, was that of his wife, Candace Shivers-Morgan.
As many of his friends said, his happiest years were the last 20, after he found her. One of his many “best friends” said it best straight to Candace: “He lived each day to make you happy.” She knew it. We all knew it. We also knew she felt the same way about him. Candace would often tell stories of how they both woke up in the morning delighted by the challenge of making each other’s life better. The friend was choked up when he spoke of this love and and then turned straight to the hundreds in the audience “What if we ALL treated our loved ones like that?”
I barely knew Mr. Morgan. I found out after his death that he was a fan of my book. It would have been too much for me to bear if I had known that when he was alive because I revered him so highly from afar. I met him once or twice. Mostly I saw him from afar as the silent Stedman-like mighty grounding oak tree that stood adoringly behind and beside the Oprah-like Candace, a leader for Landmark Education. The way they looked at each other, and the way she spoke of him, I thought theirs was a new, giddy romance.
Since I first witnessed their love, I have been in the business of finding my Mr. Morgan. I want to love and be loved like that. It’s not easy love. It’s a mighty love that takes something to create each and every day. It’s a gift to the husband, the wife and everyone who knows them.
I’ve got my flashlight out and I’m looking around for my Mr. Morgan. I found out today that Emmett’s favorite song was “Put Your Lights On” by Santana. The last line just isn’t true in this case:
We all shine like stars
Then we fade away
When you live your life as a beacon of light, showing people how to love, your star twinkles forever.