I have this one thing to do before I let go.
His name was George, even though I usually just called him by the thing he rode to most of all, sonofabitch. Which he was, in technicolor splendor. I say that with much love and all sincerity, because I knew the heart inside this beast of a man whose life read of a Runyon novel. It was a heart which contained unmistakable traces of gold, an element that cannot be lied into existence, as any chemistry teacher will rightly tell you. There’s gold and there’s Broadway corner, no in between.
So there’s this. A letter, to a friend who hit the road and broke my heart in the doing. His loss leaves me with an immense reconstruction job- forcing me to fill the hours he no longer provides, and the place he can no longer spell. I want to damn him to Hades for leaving before I was ready, but that would be a lie. I was ready. Just not that kind of ready. You never are.
It was time. I know it was. Just the same, it’s so incredibly hard for me to process the idea that you are gone, as in the non-refundable kind of gone. You, the fixture in my life since I was seven years old and into girls. From nine when I first smoked a cigarette. From junior high when I hated the folks. From high school when I had no fucking idea on anything, yet, oddly enough, knew everything. From my twenties when I got banned from calling your office because of the time I was making with your secretaries. To marriage, which you told me to be serious on. To divorce, where you played Rabbi to me and Kim, loving us both and grieving the loss just the same.
The whole way along, you were there. The common thread. The hold. The glue. For me. For mom. For sis. It was always that way, for as long as I can remember. As bad ass as you behaved inside your imperfect storm of a world, the deeds you granted to us were good and better. You always showed up when showing up was the only thing that mattered. It’s why I wrote you that letter back when you pulled me out of a mess I’d dug for myself when my youth driven shoveling skills were sharp as hell. You weren’t kind in the rescuing of me, but man, you were real. You helped me survive my 21st year when I had no fucking idea as to how that was going to work.
It was rare for me to feel certain of anything in my younger days. I pissed off the wrong people and I made the right people angrier than all get out. I was loud and silent in the raging of my mostly lost place in a world I never quite understood. And out of the so many places and things that might have killed me, you provided cover. Never admitting such a stoic thing as that, just doing it. You were the lesson I live by now: Do the good thing silently, and trust the good thing to be loud enough. I’m romanticizing it, sure. But I will cause I can, now.
You know what got me on Tuesday night? The fact that I never get another conversation with you. I never get the chance to whine and bitch and laugh and be completely wrong inside the right of it all. I never get that again. And that feels like the kind of thievery that makes me want to punch the cosmos. How dare you leave me without one final anything. That was such a lousy way to say goodbye. You are a sonofabitch.
So guess what? I’m going last word, and I’m having it with this. I love you, man. I love you much and forever.
Hey, you get to hound on Marilyn Monroe . . . so I get this.