On May 9, two of my friends died. Totally unrelated events. Yes.
It’s sort of a given that I am not a big fan of May 9 anymore. That date is so done. It’s right up there with December 7 – which as we all know is the day before my birthday, but also, did you know? It’s the anniversary of Pearl Harbour, and I have been watching all these World War II documentaries on the Netflixes lately, and I’m done with December 7 now.
Also, 4/20. As a teacher of high school and college English? So done with 4/20. Those of you who are saying, “What? What’s with 4/20? It’s April? A nice, spring day, so what’s the deal?” I envy you. Hang out with some college kids for a bit and experience the total twit-fest that is a classroom on a late afternoon on April 20th, and you know.
Anyhow. Here I am, being all snarky and funny about my friends dying.
Not a funny thing, death. Never, really. Unless, of course, you find yourself grieving two fellows who had biting wit and humor that could slay, I tell you.
Death came too soon. I wanted more time. I am sure their family feels the same.
My friend Maurice, “Moe” died at the solid age of 89. Moe was in my special group that I belong to, the one where there is bad coffee and lots of talking about recovery. It’s a sort of anonymous thing, but you can find us listed at the beginning of any phone book, if you’re wondering. Moe always sat at the head of the table, the big Don of the group, and he would lecture us to go to meetings and not drink in between. He used to always say, “I’m not better than anyone here. And I’m no worse,” in his gravelly, soft voice. He could have read a page from the dictionary, and we would all sit up a bit straighter and listen and nod. We all adored him.
He was my hero.
I took my boys to his visitation, and told his wife – “See those two boys over there? Yea, the two that are now running up and down the hallway in a totally inappropriate way for a visitation? Anyhow. They are here with me today because of Moe. I am here today because of Moe.
She laid her hand on my cheek and smiled and said, “Thank you for telling me that.” I wiped tears away, and she smiled through some of hers, and it was so good to be able to tell her how I felt.
And then I high tailed it out of there, because my children and visitation services can only last so long together in the same room.
And then there is Carl. Or Doc.
Carl was a professor of English at the college in our town, and I had the immense pleasure of teaching with him for a few years. I was convinced that he might just be one of the smartest people I have ever known. However, he also had a rather crazed affection for Monty Python and Sponge Bob, which kind of softened the blow of his sharp intellect. Upon first meeting, I could have very well been totally intimidated by him, but within about twenty minutes of our greeting, he had me laughing so hard I was crying.
Doc loaned me The Big Lebowski video. Of course he did. I still have it, and I think I don’t want to return it.
And, he loved my boys. He always made a big deal out of Halloween on our street (I live across from him and his lovely wife, Kristine), which was fine by me, because I think any sort of dress up in Star Wars costumes is worth celebration.
Also, Carl loved cats. Cat people, as all cat people know, are singular folk.
Carl told me once that I should write a book. And, I did what he told me. Carl didn’t mess around with words, so if he told me to take up opera, I would do so.
Carl had a scooter that he would jet around town on, and my god, the man could corner on that thing. I can still see him, hunched down over the handlebars, leaning into the curves and leaving us in his dust.
He was my hero.
And yes, I am sure there is a big lesson here about living life to the fullest and helping others and leaning into the curves and all that but today?
Today, I just really miss them.