I lost a friend this week. He died. He was 43 years old, same as me.
I’ve never lost a friend without pain. But I’ve never lost a friend to death, and it’s different.
I can’t get my head around the loss. His wife, his daughter, and family…there’s nothing to say. There are no words for an internal void like that. I imagine there’s a sharp internal pain that slowly ebbs to a numb internal pain. I’m sure the people he worked with, and drank beer with, and got together after ballgames with, are feeling the loss of his presence deeply.
So I almost feel like a poser, calling him my friend. But we were friends…once. Does that mean we stopped being friends because I’m not, I wasn’t, a part of his life anymore? At what point does an old friend stop being a friend, or is that the unexplainable beauty of old friends…you get to remain friends?
When you goof-off with someone in such incompetent ways; when you meet at the height of your immaturity, and share it, then you’re friends. And something in me says, Friends For Good. He caused me to laugh like a fool. He made up this crazy expression that became a part of my vocabulary. My kids know it.
I do not want to insult the real and true pain of people who know him and love him now. Our pain can’t be compared; it’s not supposed to be. It’s okay that I’m sad that he’s gone, even though I wouldn’t have seen him or spoken to him until the next reunion, anyway. The thing is, he’s supposed to be at the next reunion. He’s supposed to go to work, and start the coffee in the morning, scrape the ice off his wife’s windshield, and cheer for his daughter from the stands. He’s supposed to Be There.
And I think if he had been given a week to write down all of his friends, I would not have been on that piece of paper. But I also think, if someone would have mentioned me, he would have smiled at the memory…and maybe even laughed.