Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Goodbye Old Friend

I had to read the Facebook message from my college friend at least ten times before I understood what it said. It was only ten words long, but I couldn’t comprehend it and I didn’t want to believe it. But I knew the sender would never make a joke like this.

            Sad to hear that Terry W passed away from a heart attack on 12/1.

            Passed away. At forty two. I’ve lost an old friend and my heart’s a little sore tonight. I can’t picture Terry without a smile on his face. He never said anything negative about anything or anyone. We met in college when he wrote a play called “Vows” that became a student production.  I wanted to be a part of the production team, but there was already a Director, an Assistant Director, a Producer, and an Assistant Producer. Terry and Jim, the Director, said I could be “The Literary Consultant”. Mostly it meant I got to hang out with the cast and crew and get my name on the poster—and that a big deal for me.
            Terry and I got to know each other. We talked about writing a lot. That’s all I did in those days with my writing—talk about it. But he would always ask me if I had been writing and encourage me to actually put pen to paper. Even after he graduated and was in the Army he would send letters asking if I had been writing. I always had an excuse. It’s hard to get fired up about writing for pleasure when you’re an English major and there is so much required writing.
            When I was a sophomore, both of my parents found out they might not have jobs the following September. I was concerned about where my tuition check would come from and considered joining ROTC. Terry was in ROTC and did our country a great service by talking me out of joining. I think he knew I would make Private Benjamin look like General Macarthur. He said to me, “You know there’s no drama club in the Army, Right?”
            Like a lot of friends we fell out of touch after a while. But thanks to Facebook we reconnected a couple of years ago. I was glad to hear he had a job he loved and a wife he adored. He never talked about his wife without calling her “my beautiful wife Marie”.

            I could wish nothing more for my friend to have a life filled with friends, career success, and a wonderful marriage. Except more time.