“I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”
On Sunday the 12th I awoke to a text from a friend asking me to call him. It was time-stamped 3:30 a.m., which to me was indication enough of what it was about: My friend Tom Boyle, whom I wrote about in the previous post, had died that morning. A quick phone call confirmed this.
After that, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, because I didn’t in truth feel like doing anything. His death wasn’t unexpected, but the overly solicitous way my wife and children hovered around me showed that they could see I was a little dazed. When I audibly wished we had some orange juice, my wife ordered our youngest outside immediately to pick some oranges so she could make some. That’s how it was going. I decided to do just what we had said we’d do: go to the Renaissance Faire. And so, all day long, I thought about Tom, because among other things, Tom loved the Renaissance Faire.
And also, all day long, I wrote in my head what I’d write in this space. But when I got home, I didn’t want to do it.
And then I didn’t want to do it the next day.
Or the next day.
And this went on for two-and-a-half weeks.
Almost all procrastination derives from not knowing how to proceed. Usually the assignment is complicated, and so people become stymied. In this case, the task was simple — write something about my friend of 25 years. And I even knew what I wanted to say. Even made notes to that effect.
But I didn’t do it.
Because, I think, that meant truly saying goodbye.
There’s nothing I can say here that will sum up for you my long-term friendship with him. I also don’t think there’s any benefit in being maudlin. Death is the universal constant, so there’s nothing particularly special about this one — except in the way it’s special to me. You can’t just run out and replace a long-term friend. There’s only one in each box of crackerjacks.
This past Saturday, my wife and I went to a memorial gathering of Tom’s family and friends. It was good seeing so many other people who cared about Tom. I thought — expected! — there would be an opportunity to share reminiscences about Tom (I was ready!), but there wasn’t. So now, if I can, I think I’ll do that here, because I do have a memory or two about my friend that I’d like to post. Not right now, and maybe not ever (we’ll see), but maybe. Probably.
For now, I’ll leave it with this: I had future plans with this guy. I didn’t expect we wouldn’t do them.