I’m not very good with death. In fact, I’m not good at all with it. I can’t cope with the thought of my own mortality, and therefore am extremely tuned in to every little change in my body. Some people call that hypochondria. Others call it neurosis. A friend of mine recently referred to it as Judyism… not to be confused with the religion, although I am Jewish.
I received the news this morning that a very dear friend of mine, and of my mother’s passed away. Howie was 87, and some would say he lived a long and fruitful life. So what? It still hurts those whom he left behind. I’m still devastated by the loss of a man who came to be thought of as my second father. (By not only me, but by Howie himself, and by his daughter, who refers to me as her sister from another mister).
So, I hurt. I grieve. And that’s okay. That’s how I feel, and I always tell people that feelings are the one thing that are entirely your own, and nobody has the right to tell you how to feel.
A long time ago, I came across the poem below on a greeting card, although I cannot recall the author, or even if there was one to whom it was attributed. I share it often; not only when people have lost a friend through death, but when they are hurting because they have been wronged by someone who they thought was their friend.
Ships that Pass in the Night
There are those who pass like ships in the night,
Who meet for a moment, then sail out of sight.
With never a backwards glance of regret;
Folks we know briefly then quickly forget.
Then there are those friends who sail together,
Through quiet waters and stormy weather.
Helping each other through joy and through strife;
And they are the kind that give meaning to life.
Howie came into my life at an extremely critical time, and therefore, gave that “real meaning” to my life, of which the poem speaks. It was shortly after my own father passed, I had only been working at a nursing home for a little over a year, and I was struggling with a very personal issue. When he came to volunteer there, he pretty much fixed EVERYTHING, simply by being my friend. I was lost, and he found me.
His compassion, his sense of humor and his lust for life somehow overshadowed it all. His overwhelming and undying support of my endeavors, both personal and professional, helped me unfold into the person I was supposed to be. He made me laugh when I needed to, and he listened, sometimes for hours, when I needed an ear.
He was, in essence, filling the role my father had played, without even knowing it. When I was little, my father would hold me up with me sitting on his shoulders at a parade, so I could see. Into my late fifties, it was Howie who held me up so I could see.
So today, I bid you a fond farewell, Howie. May you bring to heaven as much joy as you created here on earth. Rest in Peace.