When you know someone is dying it is like being staked to the ground watching a snowball headed for your face. You can do nothing but wait and let it happen. And it stings like a bitch when it hits you. My friend Tony died today. I was expecting it but a massive ouch just the same.
This won’t be a long post, I already wrote a post about him a couple of weeks ago that nobody read so I wouldn’t want to subject more of you to not read it again. (here is the link if you do)
I am feeling so many things right now. I am sad that the world lost another honest, hard-working, simple and decent man. He had the adoration of his children, the devotion of his wife, and the respect of everyone that had the good fortune to meet him.
I’m upset that I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. It’s bad enough when someone goes and you realize that you have unfinished business; or that you are unhappy with the last thing you said to that person; or that you meant to visit them but you just didn’t get around to it. But I made the effort. I reached out to the family, asking to visit Tony, but Tony didn’t want visitors. He just wanted to be alone.
Finally, I am feeling nostalgic. One of the only things about working at that miserable restaurant was working with him. It continues to baffle me how any task, like sweating your ass off while serving hundreds of people in one night, can be fun when around those that you love. And I do love Tony, he was like a second father to me. When I was mad at my own, it was Tony who reminded me to love and honor my father because he only wanted the best for me. This from a guy who worked every weekend and holiday, never seeing his family. to do the best for them that he could.
I don’t know what kind of work ethic I had when I met Tony but I know what it is now. I credit him so much for that. Work meant something to him, it wasn’t a source of “braggadocio”, it instead gave a man his honor. I would come to value the accomplished feeling of a job well done, of contributing, of making a difference.
Losing Tony is like losing a part of me. I take comfort knowing that as recently as a few months ago I saw him. We enjoyed a cocktail and I gave him an envelope that he wasn’t allowed to open until I was gone. Inside was a letter telling him how much I cared for him, thankful for all that he taught me and how grateful I was that he had beat Round 1 of Pancreatic Cancer. I know he read it, but he wouldn’t mention it even if I asked.
At least I don’t have the awful burden of things unsaid. I just wish I could have sat with him and squeezed out of him one more of his trademark laughs.
He always told me to say hi to my Dad for him. I hope he gets to do it in person. I’m sure they are in the same place.
Goodbye dear friend