|One of my oldest friends died last week. It turns out that I talked to him literally a few hours before he died. I should have known something was wrong after that phone call, but I chalked it up to him not getting enough sleep. As he slurred his speech I even asked him if he had gotten enough sleep. He said something incoherent and then good-bye. I thought I would hear from him again, but of course I didnít.
The funeral was Wednesday. I went out to Riverside, where he lived the last few years, for the service. I spoke about what a character he was, and how he often called me early in the morning, and how Iím going to miss him.
Iíve known Joe for some 14 years now. I met him in a photo class at Santa Monica College. It was a terrible class with a horrible teacher that didnít teach. Then again, is there really such a thing as teaching photography? One either has an eye for things or they donít. Simple. Joe made that class bearable, and downright fun at times. He was nuts, but thatís what made him interesting and different from everyone else. He always spoke his mind, and didnít mince words. He turned me on to Jack Kerouac, which turned me on to a different way of writing... off the cuff. As annoying as some of his early morning phone calls could be, especially when I was trying to sleep in on my day off, Iím going to miss those calls. I grew up an only child, so to me friends become like siblings, without the rivalry. Joe really was like a brother to me, a crazy but good guy without a single bit of malice in his body. People like that are rare, and Iím glad to have known him. Heís the first friend of mine that has passed away. I guess it was bound to happen, but one is never ready for it. I can only say that heís left a huge hole in the lives that he touched. Weíll all miss him, I know I will.
The following is a picture of my friendís final resting place.
The whole day was hard, and it really sucks to have to say that I dealt with it with the help of my previous experiences with death. It really sucks to be burying a friend, because they arenít supposed to die now. Theyíre supposed to die when we are all grey and wrinkled. Thatís the tragedy of someone dying when they are young, the potential.
Iíll miss you Joe. Thanks for always making me laugh and being there. He was the first person I talked to after my Mother passed away. He helped me deal with the pain in his style, with laughter. Thank you again.