I’ve been feeling sentimental about some old friends recently. Friends I knew as an adult. Friends who are gone too soon. One from cancer, one from a fire and one murdered. One of my favourite movies is Unforgiven and my favourite line from it is that when you kill a man, you not only take away everything from him that he’s ever had, you take away everything that he might ever have. It is with this in mind that I think about the things my friends might have had.
Michele was funny. I mean, really funny. She was your friend who made you laugh at all the wrong and right times. She was crude and thoughtful and crass and gentle, sometimes all in the same minute. She would do anything for you and not think twice about it. She was the kind of person whose kindness you didn’t expect to exist. She had a hard life. But she fought through it and made it her own. I was proud and privileged to have known her. She was murdered by her boyfriend.
Rob was one of those guys who everyone loved. Smart, funny, wry, cool. The ladies loved him. The fellas loved him. He dressed well. He had the best taste in music. He hosted poker games and regularly lost. He was a great long-distance driver. There were so many great things about Rob that it’s almost impossible to list them. I loved him and miss him terribly. I may have been his twenty-fifth or fiftieth best friend but he made me feel like I was right up there. As good a guy as I’ve ever known. He died in a fire.
Jacques was my first flamboyant gay friend. God I loved him too. The drama, the theatre, the hijinks. But none of that is as important as this: The best thing about Jacques was his humanity. He was so kind, so respectful, so generous. I wish we could have lunch right now. I miss his smile, his hair and his mustache. And he was a disco dancer extraordinaire. He died of cancer.
Sometimes we don’t understand the quality of the people we are privileged to spend time with until they are gone. And we certainly don’t often tell them how lucky we are to be their friends. I didn’t have a chance to tell Michele, Rob, and Jacques how much I loved them and I never will again. Perhaps that’s the lesson for all of us. Tell the people you love that you love them. You don’t know when it will be your last chance.