After being away at the beach for the weekend, I learned by e-mail that an old friend, who my wife and I just had lunch with on Tuesday had died. This was a guy I’ve known since first grade. We went to high school and college together. He was one of my groomsmen when Kathy and I got married. We went to the World Science Fiction Convention in 1976 driving from DC to Kansas City in his parent’s old station wagon in 23 hours. There we met Robert Heinlein and Larry Niven and saw the first cut of a trailer for an unreleased film called STAR WARS. We passed through St. Louis, Missouri around midnight and went to see the arch. We ran down to the levee and stuck our hands in the Mississippi River for the first time. We climbed up the highest waterfall in the state of Virginia with no other equipment save an old rope. When each of my parents died, he was there. When my children were married, he was there. He worked for my wife Kathy for the past two decades and retired on the same day we did. Since retirement we’ve been meeting for lunch at a little Italian restaurant/bar and playing trivia, which is what we did on Tuesday. And now he’s gone. There are so many things that now only I’m here to remember. It’s like a hole suddenly appeared in my life and a huge chunk of it that I never truly appreciated before has disappeared into it.
I write this not to angle for sympathy, but to make folks stop and think. Call that old friend you haven’t seen in a while. Have lunch. Catch up. Do it while you can.