Note: This should have been posted several days ago; I wrote it, and then couldn't get it posted. These were my feelings in the moment, though.
My friend's died yesterday. He'd been a part of my life for 15 years or so, but I never really knew him.
My friend's family hosted the annual holiday party for my college buddies; after graduation we scattered across the country (not surprising) and found we had only limited time for staying in touch (more surprising), so this party was where we caught up on a year's worth of news, and reclaimed for a night the excitement and joy for living we felt in colege (and also our college ability to drink copiously). It is absolutely one of the best nights of my year, every year. It's always been at my friend's house, so his family became a fixture in our group. And here's his father, a man who's been part of my fondest memories for almost two decades, and I didn't know him. He worked as a postman, which meant early shifts, which meant he was usually heading to bed just as the party got moving. Most years, his presence was defined by his absence – which I guess is how it will be from now on, too.
Here’s what I did know.
Freshman year in college when my friends took me to the Renn Faire for the first time he drove. He was the only one in the car not in garb (or some attempted version of it at least; my early attempts were…frightening), and I think he enjoyed himself but I’m not sure. But he was the one at the wheel; he spent his day off taking us somewhere we wanted to be, and waiting patiently while we had our fun.
A few years later, my car broke down on the highway about 50 miles outside of town. My mom was unavailable, so I called my friend’s house, and his parents drove out to get me. They stayed with me until the truck came, and drove me home while my car went to the shop.
He always welcomed us into his house, into his life, and shared his time, his food, and his laughter.
Maybe I never knew him as an individual, but I knew him to be a mensch, and he will be missed.