I woke up today, and immediately felt as though I wanted to burrow beneath the covers. It was wet and dreary out, the type of day which makes you want to seek out coziness. I eventually heaved myself out of bed, padded into the bathroom, and lamented the fact I had to go to work. It’s been a rough few weeks at the office, and spending the day with my husband and kids looked far more promising. I suddenly thought to myself that I need to get inspired for the day. “I’m awake, alive, and it’s a new day to make mine” I thought. I pondered that statement for a moment, Sure, I have a cold, I feel under the weather, but I am alive, and I have a chance to live another day. That in and of itself is a gift. Feeling more positive, I headed into the office, where I realized that one of my friends didn’t have the same opportunity that I did.
I saw the Facebook post that my friend had passed, I paused, shocked,and went to his page. Post after post of condolences and confirmations that it was true. I burst into tears, and left the office.
The rest of the day was a blur, mainly because I spent much of it crying, I cried for the loss of my old friend. I cried, as a mother myself, for the pain his parents and family must be feeling. I cried for the guilt of not picking up the phone more, I cried for assuming there would be another cup of coffee and a chat about his travels. I cried for the fact that while his death was caused by a fluke accident caused by a faulty heater, that I realized I am entering a stage of life where this will happen again, and more frequently. His was my first friend to have passed away.
He and I met in high school. We went to different schools, but ran in the same circles, we became friends, and spent many hours chatting about our hopes and dreams for life. He wanted to retire young, certainly by 40 he said. I moved to Virginia but we spoke on the phone a lot. He was an authentic person. Very “what you see is what you get”. I remember promising him I would see him graduate, and I drove 300 miles and crashed his graduation ceremony to cheer him on.
College came, and he went across the country. College can be tough. We both went through a depressed stage, and each helped the other one through it. I remember getting a call in the middle of the night, and he was in a bad way. Probable more depressed than I had ever seen him. I was worried enough that I got on a flight the next day and flew cross country to help him out. We both made it through the tough times by having each other’s backs and laughter. We used to exchange stories about the crazy people we dated. Both of us found a couple of nutjobs to date over the years and we’d laugh hysterically at each other’s plights.
Over the years, life took over and we weren’t always in touch regularly. He got married, I was busy working, dating, and partying more than I probably should have. He started drinking a lot, and eventually got sober. He got divorced. I got married and had a baby. He became very religious, while I had become less so. He was no longer interested in money so much, he just wanted to live and make a difference somehow. We were different, changed from our life experiences, but when we spoke again, we quickly caught up and it was like little time had passed, I always think a true measure of friendship is that while you may not see each other or speak regularly, as soon as you do, it’s a quick catching up and it’s like no time has passed. True friends don’t make you question their friendship. It just IS.
It’s been several years since we saw each other, and again, life had taken over. Marriage, kids and work had kept me busy. He had moved from state to state. I didn’t have a current phone number, but I knew he was on Facebook sometimes, albeit rarely. I thought just a week or so ago that I should message him to say hi, and check in. I meant to. I. Intended to. But like all good intentions, it stayed an intention. Today, I am regretful. They often say that it’s not what you do that you regret, but what you don’t do. I regret not making the time to say hi to my old friend. To catch up, even if briefly, and to let him know that, like all good friends, he had passed through my mind. Now, he is gone, and I am left feeling sad for a life taken way too soon. I am sad that I will have missed hearing about his recent adventures.
I remember in college he had called me in the middle of the night, sometimes drunk after a frat party. He would tell me, in that unguarded way that drunk people do, that I was such a good friend to him, and that I had always been there for him. I hope I was a good friend. I think I was. I hope that he knew that I was his friend right up until the end, even if life had kept us busy and we hadn’t spoken. Good bye old friend. Thank you for all of the friendship, memories, and laughs.