Food For Thought: When A Friend Leaves Earth First

After 40 years of friendship, my fathers closest friend died suddenly of cancer. One would think with a diagnosis of cancer, that it would be expected and those involved in his life would have time to come to terms with the fate of what cancer does to us. Unless, of course, the individual did not know.

Feeling tired and run down for several weeks, my father’s friends chalked it up to feeling crummy, perhaps a bug or a virus. After all, this was a long winter with numerous colds floating around with viruses that seemed to stick around for the long haul. After noticeable weight loss, it was perhaps time to consider chatting with a doctor. It was not long before the diagnosis of cancer came back. The hard news; it was all over. Before there was time to think about the steps to eradicate it, he was gone.

I happened to notice Facebook comments that led me to draw concern about his health. I phoned my father to ask him if he had spoken to his friend as of late and informed him I saw a post his wife noted about “losing her love” however, his name did not appear specifically and I was left uncertain. Dad figured it was about their old dog that was getting up in age, it was a misunderstanding and he would call him shortly. I received a phone call back roughly ten minutes later with a broken man on the other end of the line who just learned that his best friend passed suddenly and without any real warning.

I have not heard my father cry in two decades. I am sure he has, however, the last time I recall him truly breaking down was when my grandfather passed. He is relatively good at collecting himself during times of emotional turbulence, but he broke down during this run.

It was a moment I will not forget because it did not register to me until that moment that one of them would be forced to face the inevitable. It was always going to happen; either my father or his friend Dave would experience the heartache of losing a best friend of 40 years.

I immediately took the time to message two friends in my life that have stood the test of time and will continue to join me on my life’s journey. I told them what they both meant to me and how irrecovably different I am because of a part they play in my life. I shared my father’s story with them to give context and value to my father’s friendship with Dave so they understood the brevity of the situation and just how fast it can change.

Dave’s passing reminded me that while my best friend is my wife, I also have friends that are now apart of me indefinitely. The friends that no matter where you go in life, they will always be intact. As we get older, the herd thins much like Buffalo that graze a field, and to me, that is a good thing. Keep the friends that make you a better person, that support change and growth and vice versa. Ian may live in New Westminster and Corey in Kelowna, but distance means very little when the bond is stronger than oak.

I told my sister that our Dad will forever more be a changed man. He will still be the loving, caring and outgoing father and brilliant grandfather we have grown to admire, but a piece of him will be missing. After 40 years of close-knit friendship, how could you not be a little different after that friend leaves the earth suddenly and without warning?

One day, I might be in my father position, broken-hearted at the loss of a friend that I too shared 40 years with, or, it could be Corey and Ian heartbroken over me.

While we try our best to guard our hearts and protect ourselves from hurt, I would rather go through the gut-wrenching pain of losing the closest friend in my life because what it truly means is that the friendship had true value, importance, trust love and kinship.