|My Sweet Friend, Bill|
I met Bill in 1996. We were in group therapy together for just about a year. After most of us in the group had gone our separate ways, Bill and I remained friends. We met occasionally for a drink or dinner, caught a movie or just hung out.
Eventually, he moved out of the area and we lost touch for a while. Then, about two years ago, I got a Facebook friend request from him and we picked up right where we left off. We reunited when he came to see some show I had directed and it was like we'd never been apart.
Bill was smart and funny and gentle and oh, so kind. At 6' 3", he was a "gentle giant." He loved Swedish pop music and singing show tunes at The Raven, a local gay bar in New Hope, PA. He came to see just about every show I directed or was in and we kept promising we'd get together again, just the two of two us. We often commented on each other's Facebook posts and he left comments here on the Revenge. Earlier this month he emailed me to tell me he'd bought his tickets to Hairspray and that he was very excited to see the show. And then I didn't hear from him for a while.
So last night, after posting here, I went to his Facebook wall and wrote: "Where have you been? I miss your snarky comments." Then I scrolled down to find messages from his other friends. "Miss you, Bill!" "My heart is broken." "I can't believe you're gone."
I couldn't believe what I was reading. Apparently, Bill had passed from a massive heart attack two weeks ago at the young age of 47. Bill smoked maybe one or two cigarettes a month, bumming them when a craving hit. He drank, but not excessively. He didn't use drugs and was hardly obese.
Needless to say, I was devastated. I think I cried for an hour. How was it possible that this smart, funny, gentle and oh, so kind human being was no longer with us, at 47? I am still in shock.
Losing someone you care about is terrible, though it does put some things in perspective. We're not guaranteed tomorrow, folks. Life is a fragile thing. Don't take those you love for granted. Tell the people you love that you love them and do so often. You never know when they (or you) will be gone.
This is for you, Bill. I love you and I'll miss you more than you can know.