Heartbroken - I Just Lost a Great Friend

cooljuk

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I don't tend to post such personal things here on MLP but this is something I have to get off my chest. I just have to unload a little of this heavy weight. Even if nobody reads it. ...and it may not be worth the read for those who don't know him/me well, to be honest.

During the phone call I just received, getting the tragic news of my good friend's death, I was asked not to make a social media post about it out of respect for the family and friends who have not all been personally notified yet. None of them come here though and, even if they did, they would not make the connection to my username and this vague post.

This friend of mine was a GREAT MAN. He was a relatively young man, my age, just a couple years shy of 40. I knew him since 6th grade, when we first became friends, and we stayed close through college. We drifted a bit apart in our 30's, as have most of my friends when people go on to have families and take to their careers but, every time we saw each other, it was as if no time had passed at all. I consider him family.

There were times when I had nothing and he took care of me. He loaned me money when I was broke. At one point, I was sleeping on the floor in a closet. He gave me a bed and mattress. My roommate and I, at only 17 years old, had nothing after moving into our second apartment, as our first apartment was infested with roaches, and we struggled to get out of the hood and wanted to bring none of our old furniture or appliances that could contaminate our new place. This friend arranged to give us a recliner, a coffee table, a sectional couch, some lamps, and even a decent size TV. He'd come over "just to hang out," but often brought us carry out or would order a couple pizzas, have a slice and say he was full, leaving the rest for us to stash in the fridge for the next day or two. These were the days I was working 2 jobs and pawning guitars for rent and bill money. He had a decent job and family and could help, so he did, generally without ever being asked and he made it seem like it was just coincidence to avoid taking credit or making us feel "unequal" in any way. It meant SO MUCH.

He was always very encouraging of my musical ambitions and would talk up whatever music I was making to others and promote my demos. He was sincere about it, too. We spent many great times together that I will never forget. Drinking beers in abandoned houses and barns, skipping school and listening to music. Driving to school together and helping each other with homework. Four wheeling at midnight in cornfields and dodging the law and neighbors. Sneaking out at midnight to go to clubs and shows when we were probably too young to do that. Trips to the beach. Getting pulled over and narrowly escaping arrest on a few occasions. Helping friends move and helping clean up houses after the parties before parents came home. I would straighten his tie and he helped me learn to tie one. Even just sitting around talking and killing time in the heavy, hot, and humid Maryland summers are some of my best memories. One time another friend and I rode on a couch that was tied to the roof his Pathfinder down Rockville Pike! Ok, that one was pretty foolish, but I'll never forget it! We were hanging on for life and laughing our asses off at the same time. All the passing cars were honking and yelling. I still can't believe he agreed to do that. We were a little crazy as kids.

I hadn't seen him or talked to him much in a couple years before his death but I know he and I were on great terms and were just living our lives many states apart, but still close in spirit.

I don't know the exact details on the cause of death but I was told it was an overdose and pills were involved. I don't believe he was a recreational user, I was told he had been living clean, and I don't think it was suicide, so it may have been accidental. He was a mature, responsible, rational, highly intelligent and successful man with a great deal of family and friends. He seemed to have an excellent outlook on life and was nearly always smiling and upbeat. I'm not ignorant, however, and I realize that even the best of us can fall into addiction or depression and even hide it very well. We came from a culture and place where self destruction and escape by any means was not uncommon, though this particular individual seemed to generally rise above that behavior. I've lost other friends to dope and this situation looks and feels very different than those others, which all look pretty much the same. Whatever it was, I know he had a good heart (figuratively) and was a GREAT person. If something drove him to use or end his own life with intent, it was surely a weight he had to bear that would crush the strongest among us. He had a heart of gold and balls of steel.

The timing of this news was terrible for me. Right now, I'm sick with a fever and chest cold (I nearly never get sick at all), a full plate of work, and I'm alone, but for my wonderful dog, out here in Colorado. A snow and ice storm is heading my way. My wife is visiting her folks back in Maryland and I'm afraid the funeral will probably happen before she returns, leaving me in a situation where the only way I could attend would be to drop everything, hope for a change in the weather, rent a car and drive nearly non-stop to D.C. with my dog. Which I may do. A flight won't work as I can't board my dog. She was abandoned at a vet before my wife rescued her and has terrible anxiety about cages and other dogs. We suspect she may have been used as a "bait dog" based on her reactions and where she was abandoned. She's never been boarded since her rescue and, at 8 years old, I won't do it now. As soon as I find out the date of the funeral, I will make my plan. I'd like to speak at it, with his family's permission, though I've never done something like that before. There's no doubt that he made my life better. Even great at times it may otherwise have felt nearly unbearable.

I think, if I could take his place in death, I would. He would probably bring more joy and great things to the world than I ever will. Of course, that's impossible so I will keep him close to my heart and honor him through my actions and decisions for the rest of my life.

Well, I just wanted to unload, to be honest. It's too late (past 3AM Mountain Time) to call any friends, especially on the East Coast. I messaged my wife but she is likely sleeping and I don't want to wake her. She may have met him when we were younger but would probably not remember and that's ok. They came from different circles and didn't have paths that crossed much, if at all.

If you read all of this, thank you, it wasn't necessary but is greatly appreciated. It's possible that just typing it all out will have eased my conscience and allow me to sleep now. Perhaps this could also become the framework for my funeral speech, if I can make it.

Goodnight, MLP.
 

jeff_farkas

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Wow.. so sorry to hear this news.
Stay strong..

RIP to your friend.. :(
 

DADGAD

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Condolences James. Sounds like he was a true friend that many would be blessed to have had an opportunity to cross paths with in our lives. Some people are very special and it sounds like you never took that for granted. I do not have any words that could possibly make things any easier for you except that there is a whole brotherhood out here that understands and will support you in these tough times. Thank you for sharing, truly.
 

RAG7890

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So sorry to hear of your loss James.

Thinking of you from the other side of this Planet mate, your friend & his Family.

It's good to share the load with your mates here.

RIP.

Rudi.
 

E1WOOD5150

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After reading what you've written, I am sure that your friend knows how you feel. Other than that, DADGAD has expressed my sentiments to the letter.
 

Nippon

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Sorry to hear that.

RIP to your friend.
 

ToneasaurusRex

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What an amazing, heartbreaking, lovely post to read! My condolences to you.

Is there anyone who can dog-sit at your place so that your anxious dog doesn't have to endure a kennel stay? My fiance and I are both dog people, my parents too, and if you were closer to us we'd find a way to cover your dog's needs while you attend the funeral.
 

JCM900MkIII

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That must really hurt.
Many people don't even have friendships of such a level.
And at that age...


R.I.P.
 

scott1970

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I wish there was something I could do or say that would help.

If you get a chance to speak at his funeral share what you've written here. It's a fine tribute.
 

jc2000

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Too young.. sorry for your loss.
 

Bigfoot410

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What you wrote is why he stood by your side all those years.

Condolences and prayers for comfort.
 

El Pablo

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Tough loss. Your story is a nice honor to your bond.
 

JCarno

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So sorry for your loss James. I know the feeling. I've had 2 close friends pass way too young.
The shock and confusion can be devastating at first .
I had to go to counseling for the first one because I happened to be with him at the time. We were riding ATVs and he hit a tree.
Anyway, the most important thing the counselor told me was to keep talking about it until I got sick of hearing about it myself.
Luckily I had alot of support but the best thing that helped the healing was reaching out to his family and grieving with them.
Sincerely, Joe
 

RedSkwirrell

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I read it because having others know about this man seemed important to you.
Thank you for posting and condolences.
 

Pop1655

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What an honor to be remembered so fondly.
Peace!
 

danohat

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I'm sorry to hear this. Prayers for those in pain.
Also a great reminder to love the ones you have in your life daily. Reach out to friends you have lost touch with or have become too busy to contact.
 

bilbarstow

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Cooljuk, your post is so heartfelt and devastating. A fine tribute on it's own to your friend, may he rest in peace. I've had the same experience many years ago. My very best childhood friend always said that he didn't think he would live to 40 years old, and he did not. At 35, cocaine caused his heart to stop, while his life was actually turning for the better - he had a child on the way, and was starting a decent job that next week.

I was also living across the country and was unable to attend his funeral. I wrote out the best eulogy that I could come up with, and sent it to my Mom, who attended in my place and read it before the assembly. It broke my heart not to be able to deliver it in person, but knowing that I was well represented, and that my loving message was relayed to the family and friends was of some solace to me. I truly appreciated that my Mom would do this for me, as he had been "that" friend while I was growing up, the one responsible for all the trouble I ever got into. (Those are the best kind, the ones that make you stretch beyond your envelope of safety and good sense !)

I'm also a dog guy and completely understand the complications that your beloved pet introduces to the decision. ToneasaurusRex is right, can you see some way to have your dog cared for in his environment while you take care of your friend's memory ? This is important to you and will hang in your mind for a long time. I wish for you an easy solution and the ability to bring some peace to his loved ones (and to yourself). The thoughts of our community are with you.
 

SWeAT hOg

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So sorry, amigo. I lost a friend to dope recently. There is some nasty sh*t out there where one grain of it can kill you.
 

Kamen_Kaiju

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Sorry man. Seems like a good guy remembered well.
 

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