Tag Archives: friendship

The Light Of Friendship In Darkness

“J” and I have been friends for over 20 years. A kinder, stronger, gentler and more generous soul is almost impossible to imagine. He’s also tough, resolute and can take on anyone and anything. The fact that’s he’s usually armed and an excellent shot helps (he’s a former cop), but it’s mostly because he’s mentally and emotionally armored against life’s weapons of personal destruction.

He’s been a de facto single parent for a long time, due to lack of presence and caring best-friends-2616075_960_720by his estranged wife, and he will soon legally assume that role when his divorce is final. His daughter is beautiful, athletic, accomplished and smart. She has her daddy’s heartstrings neatly tied around her little finger, but he clearly keeps discipline and control front and center, even if he admits to spoiling his girl. They are a tight duo, a family unit between them that speaks to strength against emotional odds.

I am proud that “J” is a friend. His life’s list contains a fair measure of mistakes and crazy moves, but we all have those. And to decide to divorce and single-parent a teenage girl takes more than chutzpah. It requires the saints’ patience, plus athletic-level endurance and the steely fortitude to say “No” and mean it when the begging, crying, pleading and tantrums threaten to implode the relationship between father and child.

Seeing “J” with his daughter recently showed me a side of him I’d never known before. He was always the funny, high-energy guy we depended on to show up in times of trouble and get the job done. He’s still that person. But now he’s a deeper, more thoughtful man. Experiencing personal pain and working through it does that. Having a child does that, too. I’ve told him that I’m there for him, no matter how his current situation turns out. You don’t give up on the good ones.

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Filed under Children, mental health, Relationships

A Real Friend Likes You After You Eat An Onion Sandwich

English: me and my friend

I’m not one of those people who lives in accordance with the number of “Likes” I get on Facebook.

And while I appreciate my Twitter followers, I don’t spend time agonizing over how many I have or who I follow.

And some days, the legitimate comments I get on my blogs and my food column are outnumbered by the spam slammers promising me everything from more Google hits to a greatly increased libido.

If the year’s personal losses have taught me anything, it’s the value and definition of true friends. I have one of those, and I spent time with him this weekend. He has recently experienced the deepest and most personal pain of life’s losses, but he has such grace, humor and kindness, that his sorrows seem to sit lightly on him, if you don’t know him. I was supposed to be the strong friend this weekend, the listener, the one with the shoulder to lean on. Turns out I needed strength, an understanding ear and a place to lean, too.

We cried, laughed, had lunch, shared and remembered, and I realized that this friend of nearly thirty years is someone with whom I don’t have to be a politically correct, always-in-control, grown-up human. I can say anything without causing him shock, ask him anything and get an honest answer (even if it’s not one I want to hear) and know that what is said between stays there.

Everyone should be fortunate to have several close friends; a network of people to rely on at any hour. If you think of life as a car, the scenario will occur when all four tires go flat at once, the steering wheel falls off, the transmission starts shifting on its own and the engine makes a noise like a locomotive just hit your living room. That’s when you need those friends.

Because I also write about food, I guess the best way to characterize our friendship is to put it into food terms. He’s the kind of friend who still wants to be with you right after you’ve eaten an onion sandwich. And I am one lucky soul, stinky breath and all.

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Filed under food, inspirations, mental health, Relationships, thought

A Suicidal Loss


The loss of a friend

A photo, flowers and the bits and pieces that make up a life.

The notice came in the form of an email.

“We regret to inform our members of the sudden passing of Glenn… He will be greatly missed.”

Basically, that was it.

No clue in that short missive as to the happy boy inside the 52-year-old man who took his own life.

The friend who constantly staggered on the line between clean and sober-sane and the broken bottle-lined pit.

The racing fan who also drove, crewed and worked the track with great dedication, and who was also very dedicated to the siren scream of substances that sapped the body and stole the mind.

The man who could “man up” enough to show up for work responsibly, yet do the disappearing act without warning or trace.

Looking at your flower-bedecked photo during the memorial service was something of a disconnect. You never struck me as a hearts-and-flowers, sentimental kind of guy, except maybe around your dad, and I know that his death must have stabbed you down to your soul.

Looking at the paraphernalia of your life on display – the jacket, the racing gear, patches – is like looking at a museum diorama. It represents points in time, it evokes recall and remembrance, yet leaves space to wonder: what else could have been here? What else could have been done to change this picture? Did people try to help too much, or not enough?

I know of several of your friends who went above the call and did more than their share to assist you, with housing, food, money and employment. In hindsight, maybe others would have stepped in had they known how bad things were. Or perhaps those who did help would have turned and run had they known how this mission would ultimately end. I don’t think anyone regrets what they did for you.

None of us regret your friendship, your laugh, your kindness and your ability to take a nap just about anywhere. We will always regret the lost chances to understand why the light in you died one day and the darkness finally took over.


Filed under death, mental health, Relationships