The world seems a little colder today. A little smaller. The light shines a little dimmer and the birds seem a bit subdued in the early morning hours.
An old friend died unexpectedly over the weekend.
It has been a while since my life was last touched by the death of someone that I knew well, and this one came from a quarter that I least expected.
I hadn’t spoken to my old friend in a while. Facebook made possible the exchange of random messages every great once in a while, and we last spoke in person a couple years ago at a high school reunion, but it felt as if those conversations lacked the depth that we were once capable of. But then, those murky depths hadn’t been plumbed since high school so many years ago.
In high school, he had been a good man, and from little snatches that I’ve caught over the years and since his death, I don’t think that changed. He always had an easy smile waiting on his lips, a twinkle of mischief in his eyes, and an overwhelming eagerness to make you laugh as if it were his only purpose for being. He was always there with a shoulder to cry on, an ear welcoming your worries, and a willingness to help carry the pain when it became too heavy for you to carry alone.
He made me laugh. He made me cry. And when I was done crying, he made me laugh again.
He helped me dream big dreams about writing sweeping epic fantasy novels, though now I regret that I never once let him read anything I had written during those high school years.
My memories of high school have grown foggy, and for the most part, faded to near nothingness beyond vague impressions of emotions that I once felt. Every once in a while, a memory will surface. I recall that my friend got the lead male role in “Our Town” when we were freshmen or sophomores. I remember sitting in the audience for his performance and feeling so proud of him. How brave it was to get up on a stage in front of all these unknown people! How talented! How wonderful!
He was 35 when he died of what I understand to be a massive heart attack. He blessed this world with his kindness, his laughter, and his children. When I think about how long many of us will still live, it seems cruel that he should leave us so soon, but then that’s just selfishness on my part as we are the ones that will be left without his companionship. He is the one lucky enough to move on to the next great adventure.
I don’t know what lives for us beyond death. It could be a shining heaven, it could be nothingness, and it could be a life like this one and yet so very different. Regardless of what lies ahead, I wish my friend luck, love, and happiness. And maybe a little luck for myself, because I hope very much that we might meet up again beyond this life for more conversation and more laughter.