I got a phone call a couple of weeks ago from a good friend. I’ll call him JP. He was excited about a new job opportunity and the changes it would bring to his family. We hadn’t talked in probably a year and it was probably another year since we talked before that. It feels good having a friend where the relationship transcends time. Some friendships default to an acquaintance until you spend enough time to get back to the comfortable say anything-ness that defines a good friend.
As we get older there are so many less of these friends. Friends who you can count on in a pinch. We talked about his oldest son who is in college and is doing some amazing things. He is working on a double major and setting the bar high for grades and hard work. I could hear the pride spilling over as he swore he wasn’t bragging. It was bragging. Any good father would have done the same. He talked about his daughters and how proud he was of them. We talked about guys and dating ages and such. I shuddered to think about my girls going through teenage years and the things that were on his mind for his. We caught up on all the new gossip on the people where our lives overlap. The call was a little longer than normal and it felt good to catch up. We exchanged new phone numbers and promised to get lunch together soon to celebrate his new job.
I laughed because for some reason I thought of a day several years ago when JP and I went to lunch. My wife was very pregnant at the time so we switched cars for a couple of months. The reason we had to switch was actually the fact that her car was, in-fact, a half sized replica of a car. A two seater convertible with a fabric top that could be retracted completely without getting out of your seat. Add in the fact that JP is not a small man and the scene was comical. We looked like a couple of sardines crammed into a can but it was a beautiful day and we got lots of laughs about it afterwards.
We made been co-workers at my previous job and when I turned in my two weeks notice, he was one of the people I hated to leave behind. We kept up on the water cooler gossip and industry chatter.
Last weekend JP had an allergic reaction. He spent some time without oxygen to his brain and, while he is still alive, he is unresponsive. From what I understand, the long term damage to the frontal cortex is not something that will recover.
I hurt for his family. How do you begin to process loss in healthcare limbo? I hurt for my memories. I feel selfish for grieving the loss of a friend who I didn’t see that much and honestly probably wouldn’t have much into the future but I know he is on his way out.
The people who weave themselves in and out of our lives become threads in our fabric. These threads form a cloth that is every bit as important as food and shelter. We wrap ourselves in this cloth every day. Each time we lose a thread it leaves us a little colder and feeling a little more exposed.
I’d love to tell JP about my kids and the crazy whirlwind of small children this week. The fact that my youngest went on a juice bender that ended with her peeing in the floor twice in one day. He would find that shit hilarious. I could bitch about kids not paying attention or being rational human beings and he would laugh and share some of the same stories. We probably won’t trade the latest government conspiracy theories or get black market video games downloaded to a microSD card for my Nintendo 3DS. I wont walk up the stairs to see him playing counterstrike on his lunchbreak. But I will remember all of that.
It just sucks.
To JP, I hope there is a miracle spark in there that fights its way out and leads you to a full recovery. If that isn’t in the cards then I want you and your family to know that you were a great guy and meant a great deal to me. I hope your wife remains strong and seeks out an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on whenever she needs it. I hope your girls realize that a dad’s rules are all about protecting teenage decisions so that life options don’t become limited before you get to see just how big the world really is. High school is like looking through a key-hole at the world beyond. Once you get out in the world you will be amazed at what is waiting for you. You will remember how your dad felt about you and that is a good place to start when you wonder what he would want to see. Take his good points and make them stronger in yourself. Life moves forward.
If you have lost a good friend, this one if for you. Keep fighting JP until you can’t and if you have to leave, know that you were a good dad.
-Rest In Peace.