I recently lost my best friend. I mean best, the kind you call as soon as you have something amazing to share, the kind who has seen you through relationships, been a shoulder to cry on and has been there for weddings, births of your children and whose family has become an extension of your own. Best by anyones standard. He was 37, had a 22 month old and a 6 week old. He had a business that he had just expanded and as far as he told me, life was worthwhile because he had the best wife and kids a man could ask for and friends that anyone would be jealous of.
There was no dramatic illness, no warning, no chance for goodbyes, not even a chance to get a family shot of him, his wife their son and their newborn child. One night he went into his room, undressed for bed, laid his clothes over his footboard in preparation for the next day, plugged in his phones and devices, and went to sleep. He never woke up. I think my children will be forever haunted by the sound of my screams as I reacted to the phone call giving me the news. Horror and sorrow somehow seem too light to justify what I was feeling. All I can recall is repeatedly saying to the caller “who died? What are you talking about? Who exactly died?” Its like there was a brain disconnect. I could not fathom that this guy who I could BBM at 1am or 6am and get a response was no longer there for me. This guy who was part of my trio of the three musketeers as we used to be called was suddenly not there. The sorrow this loss has left behind has no end. His is the first name that pops up on my blackberry when i search for a contact, he is the person I think of when I get an early morning call or text. He is the person I think of on my long drives for work where he could keep me entertained until I reached my destination. He is the person I want to call because as a pharmacist, he was my go to guy for what crazy meds I could mix before getting on a flight to avoid both anxiety and nausea. He is everywhere and yet no longer anywhere within my reach.
I can still picture his room after the coroner left as I went to say my goodbyes. All ready for the day ahead. Everything neatly laid out. Everything charging. A baby bassinet in the room so his wife could feed during the night. A normal bedroom for a couple with a newborn, the only difference being that there was now only a single mom of 2 babies. A woman with more strength than I ever gave her credit for, a woman who amazes me each time I see her or speak to her. Aaron you chose so incredibly well.
Why do I tell you all this? It’s not because I like to share my personal feelings, in fact, I am one of those people whom psychologists would have a field day with because I don’t like to share, at least not with anyone other than my husband or parents. I tell you this because I want you to see the light. No, not the light that people describe on near death experiences, but the one that let’s you put things into perspective. The one that helps you realize that the thing that aggravated you today is likely not as dramatic as the feelings that were rushing through you. The light that that teaches you to react less dramatically because really, was it that bad? I was watching a woman and her child in the airport this afternoon. Her child was restless and had accidentally bumped into another passenger in line. The other passenger didn’t seem to notice but the dramatic response of the mom and how mad she got with her child for being careless just seemed to me so typical of how we overreact to things these days. Everything is overdramatized and every sentence starts with OMG or “this is the worst day of my life!” Granted sometimes it is, but it can’t be a daily thing. We need to relax. We need to accept that life isn’t perfect, our kids aren’t perfect and that the sky won’t come crashing down every time something doesn’t go as we expected. It can’t possibly be healthy to live under this type of stress. We are a society of high strung multi tasking individuals who never take a moment to relax. If you think I’m not talking about you, tell me when you last tweeted, added a Facebook post or checked your iPhone or blackberry while pretending to listen to your child and responding with a “sure sweetie, that sounds great.” We need to get back to the days when the internet didn’t exist, at least a few hours a day so that the time we spend with our families is memorable and so that we have no regrets. Work hours should have a beginning and an end, yes even for us entrepreneurs. You never know how short life may be ( I type this as I sit on a turbulent plane so you get my point) so live it like you mean it. Live it today, don’t wait for it to happen to you, make it happen for you daily. Don’t just make plans, take action. Most importantly, tell the people that you love, that you love them. Tell your friends how important they are to you. Don’t wait until all you have are regrets, say it when it means something and has the power to make someone else feel great.
I know my best friend knew I loved him, he knew it in my calls, in our friendship, in our time together but damn I wish I would have told him how much he meant to me and how much better I was for having known him. Aaron, you are forever in my heart and your friendship is one that I will always cherish.