A while back, more like two decades ago, a good friend of Steve's and mine died tragically in a car accident. Up until then the only deaths I had to deal with were from elderly relatives by natural causes. The fragility of life and the finality of death shocked me to the core. There would be more to come, some only months apart... until a rainy night took one of our dearest friends from us and I cried until I was sure I had used up my very last tear.
I did not. That would come in 2000 when a young friend, almost as close as any of my sons, lost his life. The pain that I thought could not get worse... did. The tears I thought for sure had dried up... flooded.
That was when I decided that I could not take any more. I distanced myself from friends. I held back from new acquaintances. I wrapped my heart in a cocoon of bubble wrap to ward off any further pain.
The bubble wrap worked. A good man, one that I enjoyed talking to when ever we met but never went out of my way to seek out, died last week. From within my protective wrapper I was unaware that he had even been ill. I did not know he was gone until a week later. Upon hearing the news I struggled to recall his face and to hear his voice. My mind drew a blank and no tears fell.
I pulled up the obituary, for the third time this evening. I saw the kind and gentle face, the rumpled hair I liked to make fun of. In the back of my mind I heard his voice as he talked about hunting. We would both take turns poking fun at Steve. We should have been friends.
I should have known that he was ill. A friend would have known.
I read once that feeling pain every now and then lets you know that you are alive. I have been suffocating myself in an effort to shield myself from hurt. I need to know what it is like to be a good friend again. If it hurts from time to time, I am sure it will have been worth it.
In the quiet of the house, unprotected by bubble wrap, tears of sadness and regret finally fell and it felt good to feel again.
He was a good man, and a good friend.
8 years ago