That last Saturday in April 2018 was such a special day. I’d been blessed that some of my closest friends in junior high and high school were over 35 years later still my closest friends today. My memories of good times then and good times now still remained fresh. I imagine it always would; and if it didn’t, I would always have these words to remind me. With that said, I couldn’t believe it’d been ten years since I’d seen some of them, and twenty years some others. While time and distance may have separated some of us, I did not feel any of that. We’d picked up right where we left off. I just realized that it’s been two years since that weekend.
One of the major themes in my blog is this whole idea of family. I’ve been fortunate in my life to have friends who are like family to me, family who are like friends to me. I’ve been writing about family and friends since I started writing in a journal back in 1989. That’s what I felt the whole day and night in WL, with my friends from high school.
We’re at that age where the possibility of death becomes more and more a reality. And lately, heaven’s been knockin’. Sadly, those knocks are loud and that door has swung wide open, whether it’s friends from high school or family members of close friends I’ve met since. In early April 2018, within a six-day span under two unrelated circumstances, two friends of mine I’d grown up with — Ben and Brad — suddenly left the earthly plane. Some of my most significant memories growing up throughout junior high, high school and college included these two. That May, we had a memorial service in West Lafayette, IN for Ben. Though the occasion was incredibly sad, I was overcome with so much love for these friends that I’d known since I was fifteen-years-old. And even though in some cases, years had passed by since I’d last seen them, with the crinkle of our eyes showing signs of wear and tear, it only seemed like yesterday when we were picking up on our last conversations.
On the drive back home to Chicago (after picking up two large Arni’s pizzas to go and driving by the two homes in WL I had grown up in), I spent the two hours deep in thought, writing this poem in my head:
1985 and junior high seemed like yesterday
My mustache and big hair having a hey-day
The butt of many many jokes
At the hands of many Indiana blokes
All of whom would turn into lifelong friends
Sadly a few of them have met their earthly end
The dearest of them was a boy named Ben
His bear hug, big and burly to the end
His eyes grew tiny, the bigger he laughed
All the while he chugged n’ slugged that big ol’ draft
Those days are a very long time ago
His passing an empty hole, death’s afterglow
We’ll see you Ben. Some time. Some day.
Somewhere. Somehow, tomorrow
It was a sad drive, but it was also a really good drive. And I remember it like it was yesterday.
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