Give me a reason to believe that you’re gone


I am in a state of shock.

One of the things that happens when you work for a county-level public benefit agency is that you end up working with a bunch of public officials. One of those public officials, the mayor of Oneonta (the city that I live in) died over the weekend of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Everybody in my office is wandering around, reeling from the news. And I haven’t gotten a decent night’s sleep since it happened.

I don’t know why. Mayor Miller was a great guy and he was very welcoming and encouraging when I graduated from Hartwick and started working here. He knew a bunch of my professors because he used to be president of the college before he ran for mayor. He lived right across the street from David, the current chair of the Anthropology Department. I worked with him quite a bit but I didn’t really know him all that well. At least, not beyond his very public face.

And then, too, Oneonta is just that sort of place. Officially, technically, it is a city. But it is the smallest city I know about that is still called a city — less than 15,000 people. It’s the kind of place where you can walk to work and anybody you see out and about at that time of day will wish you a good morning as you pass on the street.

It’s the kind of place where David who owns the Latte Lounge across the street (different from the David who runs the Anthro Department at Hartwick) will welcome you to your new job, even though he has never met you before, so you’re left wondering how the heck he knew?

And it’s the kind of place where you can email the Mayor and ask when he’s going to be in his office because you want to stop by and chat about something that’s on your mind.

Of course, there’s a lot about Mayor Miller that I don’t know. I don’t know enough about his life to be able to make any sense of this at all. But I can say that this is a terrible loss for the City of Oneonta.

Rest in peace, Mr. Mayor.