We all have those friends. You know, someone you grew up with, or went to summer camp with, or went to college with, etc. Those friends who you have enduring love for but life has stretched you so far this way and them so far that way that for some reason you haven't seen them in a few years. No worries though. Sooner or later the phone will ring or they'll end up in your driveway or you run into them at a baseball game and they are still as much your friend as they were when y'all were 14 and sitting close enough to the campfire to torch your marshmallows, but not close enough to irritate your monster sunburn.
I have several of those friends. Today I have one less.
David. He died a few months ago. He died as the result of a disease I didn't know he had because he wasn't diagnosed till recently and I haven't seen him in a couple of years. He died because someone was so purely evil they decided to break into his house and steal his stereo equiptment, and while they were there they took all the prescription meds out of his house too in case one of those meds was something fun. It wasn't. It was a medicine to keep him from rejecting his newly transplanted kidney. He died in March. I found out last night.
For two and a half months I have been without him. Okay, for two and a half years I haven't seen him, but he was the kind of guy that refused to write off a friendship because time and life have caused some shifts. There were certain friendships that meant too much to him to let go. I was lucky to be one of them and I didn't try nearly hard enough to keep that friendship current. He did. And I loved him.
We grew up together. Our families had cabins on a man made lake here in Kentucky. His cabin wasn't next door, but the door after that. We spent every summer together. Most of my favorite childhood memories included him. Our summer routine was as follows: get up, immediately put on your swimsuit, go ahead and pour two bowls of cereal because David will be here before I'm done with mine and I get one of his Pop tarts (2 to a package) and he gets some Cap'n Crunch (I was only allowed to eat crappy cereal in the summer since the parentals had turned me over to the spoiling granparents), pack a cooler of cokes and a bag of whatever chips we have on hand, fill up 2 squirtguns because Scott's gonna need some coaxing to get out of bed, make David blow up the raft, pile on someone's boat, don't return till dinner.
I'm not going to tell you what the evening rituals were. Some magical childhood times just belong to the ones involved. We called the lake Mecca for a reason. It was special. It was one of the things in my childhood that hasn't lost its magic with the cynicism of age. That, I keep. Plus, my mom reads this blog occasionally.
The only one who reads my blog who *knows* of what I speak is Karen. The fact that she shares those oh-so-dramatic, magical, giggly childhood secrets with me helps. There isn't a way for me to convey with words what those times, those friendships, were like. It is a feeling.
I don't just have memories of David. They are sense memories set off by the most random of things. The smell of Baby Oil mixed with iodine, catching the last part of a Digital Underground song while flipping through the radio stations, the taste of Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, the squeak of styrofoam against the wood of the boat dock, the crackle of your very own campfire, the taste of beers lifted from your parents' fridge. And the feeling of flying as someone pushes you so high on a swing that you're sure you're gonna go right over the top bar, or at least hit the wires, but it's okay because he's not gonna let you hit the ground.
And he's also not gonna let you flirt with Shane Underwood without having to deal with serious moody pouting.
That's David. The Wall o' Hair hisownself. I didn't know I missed him, but only because I didn't know he was lost. There is one less person in the world who loves me unconditionally. I took that for granted. He was always there, it stood to reason that after 32 years that wasn't gonna change. I'm the one with multiple health crises. He's the guy who tells me to stop being a baby, but carries my bag up the hill anyway.
This sucks out loud.
I'm going down to the lake in two weeks, our first trip down there in a couple of years. Ima spend some time with my friend. I know exactly where he is. I just hope I can push the swing on my own.