I have one friend that has known me since kindergarten thru thick and thin. (literally) Happy and sad. Young and old. Stupid and smart. In love and out, up and down. Sick and well.
My friend Fred. We met at 4 1/2! We turned 5 one week apart from each other, and all the birthdays since. And, yes, dang it, I am the older one.
10 years ago, at 58, Fred's dad almost died. 6 months of hell, in the hospital and out, and finally, he emerged - determined to live his life to the fullest each day. I was so relieved.
He had ten amazing years more of living life to the very fullest.
Fred's dad died on Friday the 28th, and today, at the church, I said my final goodbye.
Big Fred was like a second dad to me, the family like a second family. I spent many, many days and nights at Fred's house, just a few blocks from mine. Many nights at their country home, a place I loved to visit. Many dinners, and lunches and breakfasts and yummy late nite treats. His sister's were like sisters I never had. We laughed and fought and were silly together. Our dads served on the town's 'auxiliary' police together, our moms were class moms together.
Sure, life gets in the way, and you grow your own family around you with marriage - hubby and kids. My Fred moved to AZ, but the affection, the love it doesn't ever change. It doesn't get less, in fact it grows greater as you watch your own kids and realize just how precious all that shared time together is in one's life. The gift of sharing your childhood dreams and fears and love. I was an only child, Fred, my brother, I didn't have.
So, I helped my friend, my brother, say goodbye to his dad. I said goodbye to his dad. I know it isn't really goodbye - I know that he lives forever on in my memories and in my heart, and in the hearts and memories of his wife, his son, his daughters, his grandchildren and in all those that loved him.
So hard to do, letting go. You can't help but look around you and think of the mortality of those close to you. My mom and dad. I truly can't imagine how hard it must be, and yet I got an unwelcome glimpse this week.
This week I had to see just how awful and hard and impossible it will be.
Yet, Fred will go on. They will all go on. Circle of life and all that... and someday, in the face of my own loss and grief I will go on too.