Tuesday, September 14, 2010
My heart is broken today. I found out late yesterday that a good buddy from High School has passed away. This was someone I loved and admired and spent countless hours with over a lot of years. He always made me laugh and he was good at so many things.
His name was Joe Smith, but he was a lot more complex than his name.
Joe and my other buddy, Al, were like brothers to me in High School. In my heart they still are.
Years ago Joe wanted to lose weight and he just did it. He buckled down and did it. He ran marathons like a champ. He worked hard. I thought he could do pretty much anything, but I was wrong.
One day, I'm not sure exactly when, maybe just for fun or to fit in or out of curiosity, maybe out of grief over losing his father at such a young age, whatever the reason: he tried some drugs. Any one of us could have. Most of us did. We had a taste. But most of us put it away.
He didn’t. He continued to struggle all through his life. A devil on one shoulder, an angel on the other.
Even when we were young he had a hard side, a certain face that would look at you and have some kind of emptiness in it that is hard to define. Light moved in and out of his eyes. When it was there, he was a joy. When it was gone, he was . . . difficult.
But I refuse to define him by his weakness. I refuse to remember him for those things alone. What I remember most is how he made people laugh. How he made me laugh. Like his family, he enjoyed laughter and good food and friends. I remember how he learned to cook, like a chef, with great care and knowledge. One time I showed up at a restaurant he was working at and he made me a prime rib that weighed about five pounds, I think, with all the trimmings, and he wouldn't take a dime. I remember how he liked to dance and listen to music. I remember his determination and willpower to run and finish marathons. And I remember how bright and joyful his smile was, especially when he was telling a joke he thought was funny.
I miss my friend Joe. I miss him a lot. More than I can say. I feel empty inside.
But I look for a better day.
“I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone
I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
But yes I'm still running
You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Of my shame
Oh my shame
You know I believe it
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2010