Quiet day, no wish to venture out when a window pane so starkly separates cozy existence inside from the harshness ‘out there’ on a cold snowy wintry weekend with sunny expectations today – so Canadian.
My eyes are wet, my belly tight and my memory playing over and over the movie of the life and times of a friend as I’ve known him. My memories of time spent, of conversations that now seem insufficient in frequency and length because soon they will only be remembered in the past tense.
He wasn’t everybody’s friend, but he’s unquestionably one of my finest and truest.
Eulogy is defined as a speech or piece of writing which praises someone highly, typically someone who has just died. My strongest wish is that he can remind me months and years from now that I wrote this prematurely – but we both know that wish won’t come true.
He’s known that for a while. I just found out on Friday. I find myself in this strange state of mind, wanting to convey these thoughts at a time when he might read them, hear them, know them before he goes …
Both of us: proud, stubborn, reluctant to talk about our troubles and fears, we found common ground there. Our connection didn’t start that way. We did some deals, we made some money.
Along the way, we became extraordinarily good friends. We had some laughs, we had some incredible squabbles, some ‘who will blink first strained negotiations’, but best of all we built friendship. Perhaps the way oysters build pearls – something rough and difficult to begin with at the centre of it all – but creating something strong and enduring with beautiful strength no one could break, or want to.
An older friend by a few years, his struggle with demon cancer coming to an end in coming days or weeks. I’m not angry, just sad. Not mad, just glad. We met as people so often do in my business – on opposite sides of a transaction. He acted for the landlord, I represented a tenant. We negotiated hard and well, achieved win-win results and created more deals – each of them where we were on opposite sides. Some failed tries too. Reality of things not always working out pained us both as we didn’t get the win we sought – but we got something else in the bargain. Friendship of more than twenty years – long after deal opportunities were done, less frequent visits but regular phone calls. Remembering each other’s special dates. Being there to talk to, being someone to talk to. About things you can’t talk to most people about, he was there for me and I was there for him. Neither of us would likely say ‘he’s my best friend’, and neither of us would be insulted that we weren’t. Good friends, reliable friends – the kind who are there for you when you don’t need them and even more-so when you do. Day or night. Home or away – someone to reach out to who understands, who doesn’t judge – someone to help, even when helping is only a simple ‘uh-huh … tell me more’. Proud and adoring of his wife Marsha – always bragging and proud of his children and grandchildren. Never did a conversation end that it hadn’t included some discussion of what was going on in their lives and how proud he was.
The toughest part of losing a friend is that moving from living to dead in terms of how we speak of them, in terms of how we remember them, not in wishing we’d laughed harder but that we’d laughed longer, not wishing we’d talked more often but wishing we’d talked longer.