I’m still sad.
I got the note on New Years morning. The note said he had died just hours before.
I guess you could say New Years Day wasn’t that good of a day for me.
I would have just breezed past the three-quarters of an hour I had to stand on the roof in the cold, running a plumber’s snake through the waste water system of the house. The hours I spent counting merchandise in the music store, as awful a fate as that is, I could have overlooked.
But, my friend died.
Before I go too far here, I want to be clear; I hadn’t seen or communicated with him in over forty years.
It doesn’t seem to matter.
But I have to ask myself the question: Why does this news hurt more than others who have also passed? There have been many over the years. I have felt each one, but none like this one.
All morning on that day, as I called out prices to the Lovely Lady, sitting with her pencil poised to tabulate, my mind wandered.
Over dusty paths long since paved over, along drainage ditches filled in decades ago, I rambled again with my friend. Cold summer nights—colder than ever I had imagined closed up in my sweltering bedroom—we spent in the tent in his backyard. Pool games in the den, sneaking out from the back yard in the dead of the night to wander the neighborhood, milk and cereal at the dining room table the next morning—grinning at each other over the milk glasses when his Mom or Dad asked how we had slept.
All the scenes played through my head as I struggled to focus on the job with the Lovely Lady. After so many times of my voice cracking as I called out the price of one music book after another, I suggested we might as well go home as soon as we got to the end of the row.
She, wise companion that she is, agreed. We went home, she to visit with her sister and nieces, and I to sit by the fire and follow my memories all that cloudy, gloomy day.
He was a friend when I didn’t have any.
I’ll admit it; I was a strange kid. Skinny—no social skills—acne covered face. It was a horribly awkward time. Junior High School is like that. If you weren’t an athlete or a brainiac, life was hard. We were neither.
He was my friend when I desperately needed one.
Oh, we fought—wars of words, and even a time or two with fists. We always got over it and were ready to go sit at the ball game the next week and make trouble together.
Except that once.
I read over the words I’ve written and wonder if anyone else will want to read them. I wonder why I can’t say what I really want to say.
Maybe I’m afraid to admit that I’ve thought about my friend many times over the years. I wanted to see him again, but not just to visit with an old buddy.
It has been nearly forty-five years.
I always thought I’d get to apologize. I recall clearly the words I said to hurt him, words I have wanted to take back.
I always thought there would be another chance.
In my mind, as I have remembered him over the years, I always dreamed we’d get another chance to sit in Shakey’s Pizza, around the corner from his folk’s house, and drink a coke together and laugh about the stupid things we did and said. I’d tell him I was sorry, and he’d say he didn’t even remember the words I had said.
Sometimes, dreams die.
And suddenly, in a rush, it comes to me. The sadness I feel isn’t just for my friend’s passing. Not just for him.
Dreams don’t always come to fruition. We hold them close and tell no one about them. They are seldom written, but never forgotten. And then, the day comes when there is no chance they will be realized.
This one hurts. I’ll admit it. It’s going to take some time to get over it.
Funny. I don’t think I want to get over it. Some lessons are too important to forget the pain involved in the learning.
This is one of those.
In relationships, sometimes tomorrow won’t come.
Say what you need to say today.
I still believe that I love you are the three most important words in the English language, but I’m absolutely positive there are two more which are very close runners-up:
Don’t know where the person is you need to say either of those two phrases to? Find them.
Do it today.
And, keep dreaming.
It’s how we fly. Or run. Or crawl along.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 ~ NASB)
Hold onto dreams
For when dreams die
Life is like a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
(Dreams ~ Langston Hughes ~ American poet ~ 1902-1967)
Hang on to your hat. Hang onto your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
(E.B. White ~ American author ~ 1899-1985)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved.