It is something of a crime against nature, when a young person dies. I’ve witnessed the early deaths of friends and relatives, of students and of strangers, and said those words, over and over. But when a person dies of a disease, anger turns to relief at some point because that person is no longer suffering. Even the death of my father’s first wife, the proverbial third rail in my childhood home, came with the coda that she was sick, that it would have happened some day.
What I bring today really is a crime against what should have been.
A friend I featured here with his family at a Portuguese restaurant in Rancho Cucamonga several years ago passed away last week. Except he didn’t exactly just “pass away.” There is no euphemism that encapsulates the kind of death that Brad experienced and the shock it was to his wife, his daughters and his family. And the details really do not matter to anyone but those who really loved him most. What matters to the rest of us is that the light he brought to this world, that shone in the faces of his family and our friends, is now absent and always will be.
Brad was exactly the sort of person who you could take to a Portuguese restaurant without complaint or the anxiety of the unknown ruining the trip. That day, I told him I would go on my own. He insisted on bringing the entire family. Even his mother was there. Nobody balked at the unfamiliar dishes, not even his six-year-old daughter. I may have balked at six, even though the dishes were familiar, because they didn’t come with toys. But Brad would not have stood for that.
The last day I was in Hawaii for their wedding, I was all set to take the bus to a coffee farm. Brad wouldn’t hear of it and took me himself. Denise, Brad and I spent too much money on coffee and antiques and spam, all because I asked. He was up for anything. And generous to a fault.
Brad did not treat me like Denise’s annoying friend, which let’s be honest, at times, I certainly am. He treated me like his friend. I am very different from most people. I have interests nobody cares about, like blogging about Portuguese restaurants. I do various OCD things that to most people, look insane, but to me, connect me to the long dead, and I will never, ever give up. Usually, this separates me from people, but not Brad. He once marveled at my ability to cut up drumsticks with a fork and knife, because I refuse to touch meat in front of other people. He marveled but did not make fun of me. So I say good-bye to my friend, Brad, who at 34, still had a life to live. To those he left, who must truly live with the hollowness his loss leaves behind, I am so sorry. I haven’t forgotten about you. And I won’t forget Brad.