I had particularly bad news last week, my best friend since elementary school lost his father.
I felt terrible for my best friend, obviously. And I hated to see him in pain. And I am still trying to do everything I can for him and his family. But at the same time it was a large loss for myself as well. This man was much like a father to me when I was young.
I’ve mentioned before that my father and I at times did not get along great. And I am not sure if I have mentioned or not that my mother moved away when I was young. So there were times in my life where parental issues were front and center in my life and it was difficult for me.
During those times I always looked to my best friend’s parents as a steadying force.
They were extremely great to me. My best friend is an only child, so I think they enjoyed having more kids around the house. They took me on mini vacations with them (my father took my best friend with us on similar vacations as well), they took me to family get-togethers and birthday parties and the like, they provided me with way too much food. They never shied away from making sure I was doing the right thing, they were supportive and proud of me, they really made me feel like they loved me.
There were two times, both when I was in high school, when I got in particularly bad fights with my father and I called up my friend and asked if I could stay there over night and I walked on down the street and his parents allowed me to stay there. They never pressed but they always let me know I could talk to them about anything.
My friend and I both started playing guitar because his father played. He was in a band in his youth and he was still fairly good. He taught me a couple things about playing but he would always get very excited when I would show him the new songs I had learned in my lessons or taught myself. We both liked a lot of the same music, late seventies hard rock. So I was able to impress him quite often.
He was always very warm and inviting and compassionate. He loved to laugh. He loved showing me and my friend comedies he thought were great, like Animal House and Porkys and all the Cheech and Chong movies.
Since my friend moved out of his parent’s house, I haven’t seen his father but maybe once or twice. But every time he would seem genuinely excited to see me and be talking to me. He would greet me with the same “Even Steven” I had been getting since I was 10 years old. We would talk for a few minutes and he would ask how I was doing and what was going on. I could see in his eyes he was happy to see me and that made me feel so good inside.
We had to make some extremely difficult cuts to our wedding guest list as our initial draft had over 330 people and we eventually invited around 250. My best friend’s parents were on the final cut made. It really pained me after we got an unexpected number of guests declining and ended up scrambling to fill seats. I’m sure they would have loved to have come. I really regret that.
My friend told me the other night that his father always asked about me, and that he shared pictures of my daughter with him pretty much whenever they got together. For whatever reason when he told me that it really hit me and I started to cry pretty hard.
I wish there was a way to make pain go away, because I would do that for all of my friends all the time. Even if I had to take it all on myself, I would. Hearing someone who has been like a brother to me for over twenty years cry desperately is so impossibly hard to handle.
Everything will be okay eventually. I just hope it doesn’t take too long to get there.