The other was someone near and dear to my heart. It was 6 years ago and he was just 48. His then 12 year old son found him. My heart was broken. For his son, for those he left behind, and for myself. You see, R was an old friend. We met in college and although I had a terrible crush on him he was dating a friend of mine. We lived together briefly after college, with another friend, and then I decided to move out as I decided that living with girls was more my speed. R and I kept in touch for many years but lost touch after children arrived, which I guess is fairly commonplace.
We found each other many years later thanks to the onset of Facebook. The term Social Media hadn’t even been created then. His wife “found” me, then he did. A year or so later he reached out to me to let me know that he was going to be in my town for business and might I be able to meet up for a drink or two. We met and it was as though time had stood still all those years. It was such fun to learn what our friends were all up to - Those he still kept in touch with, anyhow. And then he dropped a bombshell. He and his wife were getting divorced.
I was shocked to hear this. They had the kind of relationship that most of us envied. Their names were said in unison - as if the two separate names were really just one. And then I revealed a little secret. I too was getting divorced.
R became my everything. He was my confidante. He was my Rock of Gibraltar during an incredibly heinous time in my life. He was my closest friend. He was the perfect boyfriend. But he lived too far away and I knew that keeping up our relationship wasn’t really feasible in the immediate future. We remained close. Our boys met. We visited him at his summer place. We spoke on the phone often.
I called him to wish him a Happy New Year. I was not terribly shocked when he hadn’t immediately returned my call. I knew he would at some point in the near future. But I never did hear from him - I heard from his sister instead.
She had reached out to me via Facebook, much the same way we had gotten back in touch all those years earlier. She wrote me this incredibly sweet and long note telling me just how much I head meant to her brother.
I re-read her words.
R had passed away on New Year’s day from a massive heart attack. He hadn’t been feeling well the night before. His son found him “asleep” in his bed.
Aside from the loss of one of my closest friends in a plane crash on Martha’s Vineyard when I was just 22, this was my first ‘grown-up’ loss.
It hit me hard on so many fronts. I still think of him often.
And now Amy, who also happened to be friends with Mandy, was also taken from us. Another victim of heart disease.
Life is short.
Life is precious.
We need to live in the moment.
We need to enjoy every day.
And while every day may not be wholly enjoyable, surely there are parts that are.
So I ask myself, and I ask you -
What do you want to do with the rest of your life?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
The time will never be perfect, but
The time is also now.
Don’t wait any longer.
Take that chance.
Take the leap.
Because even if you fall it will all have been worth it.
Without wanting to sound too terribly cliché, it is indeed better to try and fail than never yo have tried at all.
It is indeed better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
And I don’t believe in losing. It’s not win or lose.
It’s win or learn.
I’ve learned so much in my life and I continue to do so.
I may never get it right - and I am ok with that.
I want to live with as few regrets as possible. And you?
So get out there. Take care of yourselves. Hit the gym. Go for that run, that walk, that bike ride. Eat well. Eat more vegetables. But by all means eat the chocolate too. Go take that trip you’ve been wanting to.
And go buy the goddamned shoes.