I can’t believe that it has been one year since our friend and frequent guest host Dean Barnett passed away after a lifelong battle with Cystic Fibrosis. I love this picture of Dean and this is exactly how I remember him, laughing, having a great time and making everyone around him feel great.

Dean spoke and wrote eloquently about his illness, especially in this pamphlet that has such a classic Dean title, The Plucky, Smart Kid With The Fatal Disease: A life with Cystic Fibrosis

As I grew sicker, I had what for me was an extremely comforting insight. I came to view serious and progressive illness as an ever constricting circle with oneself at the center. The interior of the circle represents the contents of one’s life. As the circle gets smaller, things that were inside get forced out. Some of these things are dearly missed; others that were once thought precious get forced to the exterior and turn out to go surprisingly unlamented.

At the innermost point of the circle are the things that really matter: family, faith, love. These things stay with you until the day you die. At the very end, because the circle has shrunk down to its center, they’re all you have left. But as we approach that end, we finally realize that all along, they were what mattered most. As a consequence, life often remains beautiful and worthwhile right up until the end.

There have been so many stories in the past year where I have thought, damn, I really wish Dean were here to have at it on this topic. His passing has left a huge hole in the political blogosphere. I truly feel fortunate to have had the chance to get to know him both personally and professionally. Dean was a great man, a good friend and an inspiration to countless others who are battling the terrible disease. He is in my thoughts and prayers today, as is his wonderful wife Kirstan.

The weekend after Dean passed away, on November 2, 2008, we did a tribute to him on the radio show. This segment starts with a great piece that Producer Rob put together. It is a series of clips and quips from Dean’s appearances on the show. It is so great to hear his voice again (Chowdah!) and especially to remember his incredible sense of hiumor, prescient political analysis and all around spirit and energy. Following Rob’s tribute, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol joined us to remember his friend and colleague. Having relistened to this a few times yesterday, it is truly a fantastic tribute to Dean!