Goodbye, Old Friend

My dear buddy lost his high school best friend today. Completely took us by surprise. For a short time there, I was friends with this guy, good friends. For about six months, we hung out a lot, but then we stopped, and I started hanging out with dear buddy because we were both grumping about this friend. Sixteen years later, we’re each other’s Dead Body Removal Service and will take each others’ 4am calls.

And now his bestest friend of old has taken early leave of this life, and I get to watch my friend be shattered. I’m really, really sorry that he has to experience such intense loss. I’m sorry any of us has to experience it, ever.

This friend who’s just taken his leave of us, he was one of those people with whom I was friends with for only a short time, yet still managed to make an impression on me as far as how I live my life, even today. He was into all the cool music, an early fan of snowboards, just a really cool, likable, earnest guy. We’d hit up coffee shops and discuss things, writing, movies. There were probably 10 people who really conveyed to me how much they thought I should be a writer back when I was younger, but he was one who pushed it at me for a short time there.

I don’t know why he and I stopped hanging out. I never understood that. I always felt a little betrayed that way, but I get the sense he did that to a lot of people. A dark, brooding guy at times, he seemed to go through phases with friendships, but I always was that type, too. Moving from era to era, group to group. The last time I saw him was several years after we’d stopped hanging, it was a brief visit the night buddy and I saw the Santana concert, many drugs were involved, and I was acting like an ass, so he called me on it. That’s the last time I ever saw him, when he told me off for being an idiot. But we’d long since stopped really being friends, so it wasn’t a big deal. Just, “Wow, I was sure an ass.”

But he was the first really, truly cool, comfortable, popular, honest guy that let down his exterior with me and allowed me in and to see his cerebral innerworkings. When I heard his father had died in a pretty brutal way, I sort of always saw that destroying this guy, so when I first heard he was dead this morning, I thought, “Drugs?”

No. Nothing like that. Died doing sports, something he always loved. Swept away, lost in a fury of foam. And I’m so sorry he’s gone. He lived an amazing life for the short years he was around.

When it came to sports, he was invincible. Amazing athlete. Always reckless, though, so there’s a sense of a lack of surprise in his death that way, too.

It’s so sad how we slip away from friends over the years, and when one just falls away forever like this one did yesterday, it’s hard not to wonder just how much more we could have learned from them, learned of them, loved them. It’s hard not to ask if we tried hard enough.

But what we really need to do is be grateful that, somehow, our paths crossed long enough to leave a mark, long enough to maybe have changed us for our remaining days.

Rest in peace, man. You were one of the first people who ever truly made me feel cool for having known you, and then to see how much lay beneath that swank exterior, what a great gift. May your ride be everlasting, man.

PS: This is my first post-Facebook death. It’s so fucking weird to look at his profile now and see “anything with a mild element of danger” in his interests. Fucking Facebook.

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