September 07, 2008

The Loss of a Friend

"The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways. I to die and you to live. Which is better God only knows." Socrates

When the news came about his death emotions ran the gamut, shock, anger, guilt, and sadness. I took a job in Minnesota a few years ago and I was warned about Mike. Ornery SOB they all said. You'll have your hands full with that one they warned. With a hard gruff biker persona he let it be known that he wasn't about to take any crap from anyone, especially some outsider that blew into town expecting to change to his world. He was everything they promised and more, fortunately.
A funny thing happened over the course of that next year. There grew, I think, a mutual respect and when it became clear that my time with the company was coming to an end he stood beside me when it was obvious that no one else who would.

I always tell people when they are unsure about leaving a job because they "will miss the people" that in a couple months you probably won't hear from any of your co-workers but in this case I did. He called and stopped by over the next few months just to be sure we were making out all right. We had dinner the night before we left town but even after we moved away we still managed to keep in touch. Most of the time it was just to say to hello or talk about the weather.

He called a couple weeks ago to let me know he bought a new bike and had started going to the VA. I called to see how he fared when the company laid off some staff and we spoke again last Saturday when he said he may get a wild hair and come down to see us. He didn't show. I just didn't know. There is a certain futility in trying to rationalize the irrational, to make sense of the senseless, to understand the ununderstandable. So we are left lamenting the loss of a friend that will be sorely missed, and wondering what if...

No comments: