May 15, 2017
Early this morning I did the unthinkable. I unfriended an old friend. I sat at this keyboard, thinking, talking to myself about the good times we had, the memories we shared since elementary school. In my mind, I still recall the two of us sneaking away from some adult supervision to go adventuring on our own. We were only nine or ten. We rode our bicycles to town.
We got older. We traded the bicycles for cars. As they say, the fumes got to us. We had to deal with gasoline fumes and girl’s perfumes. Both could get us in a lot of trouble. Both cost us most of our money.
We hit high school at the same time. He made good grades. I guess he studied. I didn’t. I barely squeaked by as they say. He was on the fast track to success.
He went off to a big university. He had the grades. It was easy for him. He had a scholarship.
I went to the local community college. I was still a good distance from studying. Some of those college text books were written in something like a foreign language.
We both finished college. It took a complete change of attitude for me. I think he always made his grades. He finished first. It took me an extra year and then some.
We set out to change the world. We didn’t. It took a while for the two of us to understand that defeat.
Still, he entertained people. Made them smile, put joy in their hearts and wowed them with his natural talent.
Me, well, I survived and did better than I expected. Maybe better than I deserved. I have never complained. I know what could have happened to me. I am grateful, believe me on that.
I think he was happy with his life.
Once you hit fifty, sometimes the threads that hold us together start breaking. We come unraveled. At sixty, things just start going wrong. Doctors tell us what we don’t want to hear.
That fear of what always happens to other people, we listen as some doctor tells us we’re now the “other” people. We can’t believe what we’re hearing, then it slowly sinks in.
We’ve got a problem, Houston.
Three years ago he died. The morning I got the news, I sat on my front porch for an hour. All alone. Shaking my head. Unbelieving. I wanted to call back and ask them one more time “Are you sure?”
There was no funeral. His lifeline just stopped, suddenly. A jolt for all of us survivors. At times I still forget. His phone number and the last voice mail is still in my telephone. I didn’t call it often enough. That haunts me.
This morning, it was his birthday. The computer said I should wish him a happy birthday. Why? I asked.
That’s when I realized it was time to unfriend one of my oldest friends. It hurt me.