But today is also the anniversary of the death of one of my dearest friends. Ten years. And still I struggle with it. Not everyday. And not in a way even remotely similar to what his family must bear. But still. I miss him. And I think what I struggle with the most is the absence of his influence. Not on me so much, but on those who were closest to him. He left behind a family. Children. Parents. Friends he had known since childhood. Co-workers. And he's just...gone.
Don't get me wrong - his wife has done a spectacular job of keeping his memory alive for her children, their family and everyone who knew him. More than I've ever seen anyone do it. She constantly celebrates his life. And the children aren't suffering. She's remarried to another good friend. They are living a happy life and providing all of the support, love and opportunity those kids could want. It is beauty from tragedy. Hollywood even. Not in the fake collagen filled smiles way of the people who live there but rather the 2 boxes of Kleenex® stories they often create for us.
And I don't know why I struggle with this so much. As I said, he was a dear friend. We were roomies for a time, went to University together, did the wedding party thing, each playing a part in the other's wedding. All the usual stuff. But after we finished school he went his way and I went mine. We stayed in touch and got together when we could but never as much as we said we would. I had tremendous respect for him. He was generous. Funny. Really funny actually. A musician. Bright. Clever. Caring and empathetic. In short, one of the good ones. So it makes sense that his absence hurts.
But still. I'm a grown man. Halfway (I hope!) through my run. I've lost people. I've seen other people lose people. But for some reason, even ten years gone, this one still guts me every time. Even now as I type this, I have to pause to pull myself together.
One of the things his wife does a great job of is reminding everyone, whenever an important anniversary (like today) arrives, to remember him for the joy he brought to the world. She asks people to remember something fun or silly or special that he did. She encourages everyone to do something he would have done. She urges us to celebrate the time we had with him.
So today, when my boy graduates I'm going to hug him, kiss him, tell him how proud I am of him. And then I'll probably give him a wedgie.
I miss you Jason - the world is a lesser place without you.
June 25, 2013