16 August 2010

Requiem for a friend

A friend died. A friend I haven't seen in months and who might not even consider me a friend since he treated so many like friends upon meeting them. But maybe that's why he had so many friends...real friends.

This poor bloke was born with a variety of congenital heart defects and suffered through surgeries and frequent trips to specialists and out-of-town clinics. It's a horrible cliche to employ but he dealt with it a hundred times better than I ever would have. His poor mother and father employed gallows humor by the truckload but obviously they worried...but not enough to exempt him from the family squabbles that served as live entertainment for me and other patrons of their restaurant/bar business.

At one point the friend's heart was reported to be operating only at 10% of capacity. He was put at the tail end of the transplant priority list if he was listed at all due to a variety of other factors.

One night he was working like mad behind the bar and turned literally white as he fought for breath and sweated profusely. It scared me almost as much as it must have scared him.

I'm ashamed that so much time passed since I last was able to see him in person and I'm gutted that I will never have a pint and a chat with him. Even more distraught for his family, of course - two brothers and a mother and a father who must perform grim duties no parent should ever have to face.

I don't believe in ghosts but I do believe that hearing about someone's death causes us to think intensely about that person...where we saw them last...what we talked about or did together. This concentration, I believe, causes us to 'see' the departed whenever we go to a certain place, hear a certain song, or engage in certain activities.

Farewell, Matt. I won't forget you and while I'm on this earth I will no doubt 'see' you quite often, such is your positive and lasting impact on me.