It has been almost 24 hours since I got the call that one of my friends from college had passed. This was a total shock to me and I have spent the day trying to process the information and in typical fashion I chose to put it down on "paper" so I could think it out and help myself understand what I am thinking and hopefully allow me to at least feel something about the situation.
Tony was an indomitable spirit from the first time I met him when he was still in high school. At first I didn't like him at all. I know the laws of kindness say I am not supposed to say that but, it is true and there it is. Tony was the polar opposite of myself, you see I took myself too seriously even then. He was always in the moment and it seemed he never took anything seriously. This made me CRAZY! In truth I was always a little jealous of him. His ability to turn anything into a joke, a good time, and he was never short on his witty retorts to anything. I wished that I could be that way, but, only when I wanted to which doesn't work at all.
After a time he and I became good friends and we spent a significant amount of time in each other's company. He would still make me absolutely crazy to the point of me wanting to "Nelson" shake him and at the same time he could always make me crack and smile because his joy never let up. We could also find the most fun in the silliest of endeavors. I remember once we rented the Madden football game and played it for 24 hours straight just trying to see how many awful, catastrophic collisions we could make happen. No score, competition, or even full games - just " Ok this time when you run jump into me and I will hit you from the left " - for 24 hours! I will remember it forever.
His death, this thing that has happened, has shaken me to the core. He is the first one of my close friends to pass away. I have been exposed to death. I have lost students, grandparents, aunts, and uncles but, this is different. It is the first sign that the immortality of youth is over. Life can touch us and our memories and make it hurt, really hurt, and there isn't a damn thing we can do about it. Life has dictated that we have all chosen different paths and we have moved down those paths with different speeds and trials. The minutia of the ever-present has caused us to look back fondly but not take action in reaching out to make sure that the connection is still alive and working. This is a shame and I am going to make a concerted effort to at least keep in contact with those I care about more frequently.
I wish I could say I am going to miss Tony, but, I am not going to miss him. With all of the miles between us and the time that has past most of my connection with him is in memory of us and what we were and who we all were. This "band of brothers" that spent a brief time as everything to each other. We were colleagues, a support group, room mates, friends, and we took care of each other. SO, I won't miss Tony. I will forever hold him in in my mind as the guy who was always there with a smile, who would be silly when he shouldn't and didn't care, who could show real compassion, and who could make you forget to take it so seriously, if only for a moment.
Rest my friend, and know that I will forever think of you and smile.