November 28th. Two Years. Remembering a friend.

This post doesn’t really belong in a cooking blog. Not really. But when Don was here he was one of my only followers and he would ask me questions and respond to posts on a regular basis.  So I write this here as a way to thank him for that. I was always pretty intimidated to know he’d be reading a post. He would have laughed if he knew that. He’d be okay that this was here. I hope you are too …

I came late to the game so I didn’t know Don all that well.  At least, not as well as so many others. With that said, both because Angela and I are very close to Kate and because many of my friends were very close to Don, I am always aware of the significance of November the 28th.

In truth, I wish I’d been there when some unknown number of 40 something year old men decided there was nothing better to do than lay down in the middle of Foothill Blvd one night. I’m guessing that Taylors may have had some influence. I’d still love to see the look on the poor Sheriff’s face when he realized that the group of people standing in front of him bore no resemblance to a group of over-partied local high school students. I’m sure there were great stories back at the station about that.  I’d also like to know how Jeff’s phone ended up in the fire, but I hear there is still some pain in that story so I don’t ask.

It’s been two years since Don left. The newspaper said he’d lost his battle with cancer. That always grates on me. He didn’t lose the battle. To the end he remained more concerned about those around him than about himself. He remained funny, interested in people’s lives and fiercely devoted to trying to save his own. Cancer may have claimed his life, but it never claimed his spirit. I don’t think he lost.  I think he won.

Two years is a long time. Five hundred, twenty five thousand, six hundred minutes times two. How do you measure a year? How do you measure two?

It is hard not to ask the inevitable questions. Why? Honestly, I don’t think there is a good answer and I’ve consciously stopped asking the question. For many who suffered through the same illness, a tougher question, why not me? One thing I know is that Don would not approve of the question. He would never have traded his life for anyone else’s. He’d point down the road and ask you how you’re doing and what you’re excited about and what’s next and he’d be excited to hear the stories.

I’ve felt a transition in myself through these last months. I find myself not so much discouraged by Don’s death as encouraged by his life. Don wasn’t perfect. He’d hate being characterized that way. In truth, if you complimented him too much he tuned you out. He was uninterested in hearing how great he was and I don’t think he ever really thought of himself as all that great.  (Not that he lacked opinions :-).

I guess, though, I’ve sort of decided through listening to the echoes in my own mind that Don would want me to look up. I don’t think he’d want me mourning his loss anymore. I think he’d have understood in the beginning, but I think now he’d be changing the subject. And I guess I’m deciding to let him. This is an intensely personal thing and I would never suggest that the whispers I’m hearing bear any resemblance to another’s journey. Everyone must make their own decisions about timing. I get that and respect it.

I’ll have a conversation with Don today. I’ll tell him what’s happening in my life. I’ll listen for his counsel and decide which parts I’ll take to heart and which parts I’ll dismiss. He’ll read my expression and smile and know. There are things he’d be excited about and things that would worry him. He was that kind of friend.

And when it’s time, a little later on, I’ll pour myself a dry, gin martini and garnish it with a twist and never an olive and I may even find a slightly safer place to lay in the street, just because there probably isn’t a better way to let him know we’re still remembering, and laughing. I think he’ll smile.


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