The night before Dan’s funeral I couldn’t sleep. Went downstairs, grabbed the laptop and started typing. Was so out of it, I didn’t really know what I had written. I read it the next morning and decided to print a copy and take it to the funeral to give to Dan’s parents.
A few minutes before the funeral the minister approached Ben, Tyler and me and said,”Dan’s parents would like the three of you to say a few words during the service.” When my turn came, I stepped to the pulpit, and couldn’t say a word. My throat locked up, my eyes welled, and my brain froze. And then I felt some papers in the inside pocket of my suit pocket move. It took everything I had to read these few words.
I had been pretty mad at God that week. But, I like to think that a rustling of paper in my suit pocket, at a moment when I needed strength, was a kind of an apology, or at least a message that I was not alone.
So, it’s 10/10 again. I still think of him often. My eyes still well up sometimes, but mostly I just laugh when I remember…
I can’t remember the last time I cried. Now I can’t stop…remembering or crying.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought, “If I could only see him one more time.” Then I’ll look at a picture of a bunch of friends on a boat. Drunk, sunburned and smiling. “Okay”, I think, “If I could only hear his voice once more.” Then from the corners of my mind I’ll hear, “You’re a victim.” “Yeah, baby.”
He’s still with me. For selfish reasons I just want a chance to say goodbye. But, given a chance, what would I say?
We had our standard greetings / good-byes. “You’re the man.” “I don’t even know who you are.”“Its 10:00, what are we doing for lunch?”
But for a last goodbye, what do you say? “Thanks for saying ‘yes’ every time someone asked for your help.” “Thanks for making me laugh every time we talked.” “Thanks for your unconditional friendship.”
Why am I realizing now how much I loved him?
Every time I saw him in the hospital he was asleep. He looked very peaceful. I don’t think that’s the way I want to remember him.
I saw him the night before he had the stroke. It was brief. We greeted each other, cursed, and laughed all in the same breath.
Then he hugged me. I’m not sure why. We’d never hugged before. Still laughing we turned away from each other and got lost in other conversations.
Normally, hugs aren’t things I remember. I remember every detail of this one. I had time to say “goodbye”, but I didn’t. I couldn’t, I was laughing too hard.
In my dreams I take that brief instant to say, “Thanks for everything, Pal. You’ve been a great friend.”
Then I wake up. I still can’t stop crying…