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To my dearly departed friend:

I guess it’s time to say my final farewell. Or maybe I should say my only real farewell, since there was never an opportunity to say farewell in the first place.

I knew it was time when Google notified me that you were now on Duo. You were tech savvy, but weren’t super connected with all the technological platforms out there. There is no way in a million years your phone would have Duo if you could help it. Someone else clearly has your phone number now, and for some reason that felt like the last connection I had to you. The fact that we haven’t texted or called in a year and a half doesn’t seem to make a difference; we always did pick up right where we left off. The fact that I removed your contact from social media, or my bank to send etransfers, even that didn’t feel final. But this one? This really did in a way nothing ever has since the day in May, 2020, when my supervisor at work told me to call someone I’d never met and wouldn’t tell me why. That stranger is the one who told me you were gone…

About a month ago, a friend posted on Facebook that running errands with friends was a highly underrated activity. Remember that time we went to the local mall to mail a package and buy paper plates? We both commented how much fun we had, and wondered why more friends didn’t adult together. We always talked about bringing a deck of cards and a crib board to play in the food court, and I regret we never did. But we could adult with the best of them. The last time I saw you, we went to Home Depot so I could buy plants that I could (hopefully) keep alive. One of them is still here… I haven’t killed it yet!

We met a half dozen years ago, when we were both going to other (crappier) jobs, and lived in the same neighborhood. You moved away, and then I got a new job in the same office building you worked in. For three years, we’d run into each other in the hall, or the cafeteria, or on messenger, and you would ask if I was going home and if I wanted a ride. When you moved again, far away, you always made it a point to say hi in the elevator or the lobby, and were always SO good about ignoring Jenny even though she really wanted to see you, because seeing you almost always meant CAR RIDES (her favourite thing!) When the pandemic hit, and the buses changed their schedules, I would take the bus from right in front of our office building. I was always surprised to get a phone call from you from the parking lot across the street – “Hey, want a ride?” And Jenny and I would cross the street and she’d always, without fail, find your car.

We talked a lot on those car rides. We talked about boundaries; I wanted to be more generous, like you, while you wanted to be more firm, like me. You told me more about what you were learning in school than what you were doing for work. You picked my brain about cat trees because it mattered to you to get your class project information correct. We talked about crafts and creativity. I made a tree of life ornament for you, which you not only insisted on paying my sticker price for, but purchased the materials and bought me lunch. Speaking of lunch…. after work, we’d sometimes go to Dairy Queen for their cheap combos ($7.50 for a burger, little fries, drink, and mini sundae). Remember that pop machine that wouldn’t dispense Dr. Pepper until I wanted it to stop? And then you threw your drink in the trash, rather than the rapper for your straw? We laughed until we cried!

You crocheted an afghan for me that stays on my couch; you dropped it off on a hard day, and I wish more than anything I had been the one to answer the door, because I didn’t know it was the last time you would walk up my steps. You texted me and asked if the colours were OK, because you vaguely remembered an offhand comment I made about my favourite colours. The tree ornament I made you got sent back to me, priority post, after you were gone; the grapevine knew that I had made it for you,

because the things people made with their hands mattered to you, and it mattered to you that others knew where the things that mattered to you came from.

The world is a less kind place without you in it. I wish I’d been a better friend. I wish I hadn’t texted you on that Monday in May, not knowing you had been gone for a whole day already. I selfishly wish you were still here and am also selfishly glad you haven’t lived the past eighteen months of the pandemic. I miss your graciousness, your joy in the little things in life, and the fire in you on the rare occasions you got really upset about something. You believed in love, in all of its forms, and were seriously the most generous person I’ve ever met.

It’s time I let you go now. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I feel like I have to now. Farewell, my friend. I truly believe there are angels on earth, and you were one of them. Fly high, dear friend, rest peacefully. May your legacy of love, grace, and generosity linger longer than the grief and the sorrow and the pain.\

Farewell, dear friend. You lived life well.

MLW – 1971-2020.