What My Friend’s Death Did To Me…

My friend died last night.

I came to that realization this evening.

I logged onto Facebook, which I rarely do and noticed a post from a mutual friend of ours. I thought the post strange as it mentioned some of the “good times” of their past but with each read word the fog cleared from my mind’s eye.

Immediately, and slightly panicked I went to my friend’s page only to find post after post of grieving souls trying to come to terms with their new reality.

“What the hell?!” was the first thing that I said after reading the sobering messages. I thought I was stronger but I, admittedly had never had a close friend of mine die so suddenly. I sat there just thinking about all the things that I didn’t say, but should have. All the things I needed to do but didn’t.

But it got worse.

On my car ride home tears began to form. In the shower I cried, painful tears of regret and remorse, knowing that I had to write this piece. Knowing that this would be my ode to him.

The last conversation I had with him was a week and a half ago. I still remember it now,

“If I had to go without paying myself just to bring you on board. I wouldn’t think twice. That’s how much I want you here.”

So, let me tell you about my friend, Jason.

He and I met around the months of April/May at the last startup that I worked for. He was a new hire, vigorous and ready to leave his mark on the company. I, stupidly, thought that a competition would break out between he and I. Job security was not something I had to begin with and I was under the impression that he would be the one to push me out. I was wrong.

It didn’t take long before he and I moved past the ranks of acquaintances to good friends. Now, my last job was less than stellar but he was truly one of the bright spots.

What caught me off guard more than anything was, from day one he had my back. I barely knew the guy but he was always there in support. As we developed our friendship he, numerous times, warned me of mistakes that I had made, things that were going on behind my back, and directed praise my way for me to get credit. I never asked for those things, but of anyone in the company that should have had my back, he was not the one I expected.

For that I was truly grateful.

He believed in me and encouraged me, to the point that when I teetered, on the fence of quitting my job, he took me aside and gave me hope. Challenged me to be the bigger man, in spite of all that I had endured, and to prove people wrong. I cannot thank him enough, and sadly I won’t even get the chance to try.

When I got fired, he was the only one who reached out to apologize for how things went down and he was oh so optimistic, as he always was.

I mean this guy exuded encouragement and real, authentic love. He loved and cared for any and every one. He wasn’t one of those guys who paraded around putting on different masks to show off. He was himself all the time and it showed.

A week after I got fired he reached out. He wanted my advice and help with an idea that had captivated him for some time and I quickly said I would help, because I believed in him and his idea.

— Fast forward —

He texted me some new pieces for his idea a little over a week ago and I promised myself I would respond but I got so wrapped up in my own life that I never did. Each day I would say, “oh I’ll get to it tomorrow,” but tomorrow never came.

I regret that now, even as I type these words.

What alarms me most is that we, you and I, know not of when our time will come. Whether it will be swift or slow, painful or painless, or even at our designated time.

Life is cruel in that sense. One minute things can be fine but minutes later a hell of itself. This event has me looking at life in a more cerebral way. Say the things I want to say to people or do the things that I want to do — appreciate my family and friends that I have around. I love them and I don’t say it enough.

I think that’s the part that gets me; not knowing when the last time you’ll say “I love you,” to the people that matter most.

Well, I loved Jason, like an older brother and I hope I never miss the chance to tell others the same.

R.I.P ~J.K.