I hope everyone has special friends that they may not get to see regularly, but it is as if no time has passed when they do. When I moved to Maui, I kept up with friends via Facebook. It helped me not feel homesick, and I was able to keep up with what was going on in my friends’ and family members’ lives. Sadly, I recently found out that one of my best friends for the past 48 years had just received a devastating cancer diagnosis. His name was Brian Kimball. I called him Boze. We had worked for a record distributor back in our early twenties. It was a wild time and we had fun together. We were there for each other when our children were born. In fact, my daughter Brie whose middle initial is N led Boze to believe that I had named her after him. Brian’s wife Shirlee was with me when my son crossed over the rainbow bridge. We shared so many life experiences that bonded us forever.
Boze was going to be released from the hospital a few days later. I made arrangements to go to Seattle to see him and his family. I figured they were processing the news, and I wanted to give them time to get into a routine before descending on them. Sadly two weeks was a miscalculation. When I got there, he was no longer conscious. I approached his bed, and his eyes were closed. When I started speaking to him, they popped open. He knew I was there. Boze’s daughter, Brooke, told him I was coming. She told me that he was excited. His son Zach told me he had been sitting up watching a ball game with him two days prior. My heart was sick. Why hadn’t I gone sooner? The idea that I was too late sowed the seeds of guilt. No matter how anyone dies, there is always room for regret. Logically I knew there was nothing I could do at that point, but I still went through “if only” I had gone the week before…or “if only” three days earlier. Brooke and I talked about how it was what it was. The good part is that I know he heard me. I know he waited. I am grateful that he knew I had come.
Shirlee, Zach, Brooke, and her fiancee Pat and another good friend Joey, Shirlee’s sister Karen, and her husband Paul, were all there when he crossed over the rainbow bridge. Afterward, we gathered around the dining room table and shared funny stories. We toasted Boze with Glenlivet, and then we said our goodbyes. Of course, there was the shock that he left a mere two and a half weeks after his diagnosis. His family had not even processed the idea that Boze was terminally ill, and now he was gone. So unfair. Yet another lesson about how life can be unfair.
It’s been a week, and I am still numb. The memories come and go. But, I know that Boze’s spirit and love of life will live on through his children and grandchildren. That helps some. I can only imagine how Shirlee and her children are doing. I check in every few days but don’t want to be a pest about it. I sent them my Six-Word Lessons on Grief book. They know I am here.
My advice is to reach out to your loved ones…friends, and family, and tell them you love them. Hug them. Never assume you have more time. Life is random, and so is death. Saying Good-Bye is hard and it hurts. Live with no regrets.