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, who passed away in her twenties, 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, Brad Hayes, who was featured on this blog a few 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 whining about the fact that he had no idea what the food would be. 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. There was just the joy of a family being together, which happened often, but not enough.
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. 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. Literally everyone else would and does. He spent the first day of his Hawaiian honeymoon taking his wife- and his wife’s annoying friend- to the beach. I was willing to be dropped off somewhere till my plane came. He would not hear of it. He asked me what I wanted to do, and happily went to an apparently famous gas station to sample their spam. No joke. Because I said so.
So I say good-bye to my friend, Brad, who at 34, still had a life to live. Who still had kids he should have had the chance to guide into adulthood, and a new wife he should have grown old with. 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.