My friend died.
It’s still a surreal sentence to write; just like it was a surreal sentence to say; just like it was a surreal sentence to hear. At 24, I didn’t expect a friend, a younger friend, to die. It didn’t make sense. I found out fairly soon after it happened, but with no information as to how, and for a few hours I didn’t even know if it was true. In time I learned it was, and the reality slowly sank in. I couldn’t see him if I went to California and he couldn’t come to the East Coast. He wouldn’t be at my wedding and I wouldn’t be at his. We couldn’t golf and smoke cigars and sing improv songs while he played guitar. It’s heartbreaking.
There is solace in the fact it was a painless death, and that he lived a happy life that made other lives happy as well. There is sadness in the fact it ended too soon.
In this age of social media I watched post after post go up on his Facebook page in the days after the news spread. It was amazing (though, knowing him, I shouldn’t have been surprised) how many people’s lives he touched. The terms “lit up a room” and “left people better than he found them” were repeated again and again. Little stories were shared, little windows into the amazing life he led, and they each brightened a dark time a little more.
There were memorials in three cities for him. That alone is a testament to the impact he had on those who knew him. Each one organically included “Piano Man,” a song he played as often as he did well. That, to me, is a testament to his genuine character. He was a genuine man. He didn’t change for anyone.
I was able to see most of our mutual friends at one memorial, and the little bit of brightness gained from the stories posted by strangers became a floodlight of good memories and bonding with men who I call brothers, not friends. As I suspect it is with most tragedies, this one made it clear I need to keep in constant contact with my brothers. I needed to keep in contact with all the people I love. I’m realizing it doesn’t take much time or extra effort to send a text or make a phone call.
I guess I’m saying all this to make the point of showing those you love that you care. Tell someone you love them today. Send a text. Make a phone call. You won’t regret it, I promise you.
Exodus is coming. It’s been a roller coaster couple weeks.
Thank you for reading,