Saturday, November 8, 2014

My Friend

I'm taking a break from the writing routine in order to honor a friend of mine  We met when I was in middle school. I was going through that awkward stage we all went through... braces, plumpness, and shy. This boy literally looked like what I imagined an Angel would look like. Tall, great legs, blue eyes, blond hair, great smile. Of course, I developed a huge crush on him... just like all the girls in my class. He was a great friend to me and then my world came crashing down. He was moving! His Dad had to move to another state for work. I was sad, of course, but life went on. Boyfriends came and went and then in high school I had a hallelujah moment. He was moving back! Woo Hoo! It was so good to see him again. He had grown into a handsome young man. We never dated, but did remain good friends.

My friend had a particular college he had dreamed of attending. Unfortunately, the money was not there for that to happen. He was so determined to go that he worked three jobs in order to put himself through. He earned degrees in psychology and history. I have to admit, the history part surprised me. I had always had an avid interest in history, but never realized that he liked it too. It could have been something else we had in common.

I went to a local college and went on to date some wonderful men during that time. I eventually lost touch with my friend. This was before email, cell phones, and Facebook were available. It was hard to stay in touch with someone unless you wrote letters. I heard through the grapevine about his life and what he was up to. He seemed happy. He was teaching in boarding schools and acting as the house parent. He also worked at a camp during the summers.

When email became more available, we began talking again. Not a lot, just every once in a while. When Facebook came along, it made it extremely easy to stay in touch on a daily basis with friends that had moved far away. It was nice to be able to chat with each other again. He ended up leaving the school that he loved, to teach at a school in Nevada. He was not happy there. The other school was more of a home to him and the place he loved.

I couldn't understand why he didn't go back to the other school or why he didn't take a teaching post in one of the public schools. I kept these thoughts to myself. If he wanted me to know those answers, he would tell me. He never went back to teaching. It was sad, because he was more than a teacher. He was a parent, counselor, friend, and coach. He was such an encourager to others. Even when we were in school, he would encourage you to chase your dreams.

I learned earlier this year that my friend was very ill. He had liver disease. He needed a transplant in order to live. Things were going well until he grew very sick. He was hospitalized. He then went to a nursing home to begin therapy to get his strength up. He needed to be able to walk in order to be on the transplant list. He got sick again and spent more time in the hospital. When he came out again, it was to go into hospice. His time had run out.

I began visiting him in the hospice center. The disease had changed him considerably, but I saw through that to see the boy I knew. We talked, we laughed. He told me of the years we were apart. I told him of my life too. He was excited that I chased my dream of becoming a published author and succeeded. We shared our first and last kiss in that room. I knew this man for over thirty years and never felt as close to him as I did in hospice. He declined quickly. The original few weeks was reduced to a few days. The last couple of times I visited, he slept most of the time. He did open his eyes when I left the room the last time. The next day, he was gone. It felt like my heart was shredded in two. I kept thinking of how our friendship had blossomed and now I miss my friend terribly.

My friend is in a better place and no longer in pain. For that I am grateful. I will go on with life and continue to chase my dreams. I am considering doing things I never did before because of his influence and encouragement. He touched so many lives with his kindness. It was humbling. I hope to be remembered that way some day.

Farewell my friend. Thank you for being you and for being an amazingly kind friend to me. Thank you for sharing your last days with me. Thank you for those final conversations we shared. Until we meet my friend.

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