Here’s to you, Sandman

A year ago today,  I lost a friend who has helped me become the person I am today.   I’ve written about him before, under the name “John.”  I knew today was going to be difficult, but I didn’t realize how much.  The events leading up to this week haven’t helped either.  On Tuesday night,  I completely lost it.  For a good two hours, I bawled my eyes out about him.  I am extremely thankful I was not alone during that time.  I don’t know how I could have made it through.  I was finally calmed down enough to watch a video one of our friends made around 2 AM.  It’s an amazing tribute to him.   And then I watched the other videos she made over and over and looked through pictures.  John will live on forever through my memories,  these videos,  and the many,  many pictures we have.

I’ve tried to figure it out for the better part of this year.  Why?  You had everything going for you.  Through all the pictures and videos and in my memory,  I can’t find a single time that you were not smiling or laughing.  You were so full of life. But then I remember the other things. I try to forget it. I wasn’t in the same city as you and it was simply because of that that we didn’t talk as much. Not because there were serious problems. That couldn’t be it. You left us on a day where nothing was wrong. From how it was described to me, you had a good day. She doesn’t know it yet (although obviously she does by reading this), but today Rummy has finally helped me understand why.  At least part of it.

I still think I should have done more. I’m sick to my stomach sometimes because when I did get back to school, you were already back home. You had dropped out. We had discussed that we wouldn’t be surprised if you weren’t with us for much longer. And then Rummy texted me, no more than three months later, to tell me you weren’t. We didn’t do anything. We knew it was coming and we didn’t help you. Well, we were surprised. When we talked about it, it was never your choice. At least not in my mind. In my mind, you were caught up in a bad shootout or you were hit by a car or anything else. But it wasn’t your decision to end things.

I talked to you eleven days earlier. It was Easter and you told me you were with your family and things were going well. I saved your texts from that day for as long as I could. And then somehow they got deleted during an update. I had locked them and I was so upset when I saw they were no longer there. I think that’s why I was mad at you for so long after I found out, though. You told me things were good. You seemed like you were getting back to your old self. Maybe I just wanted that to be the truth. I don’t know. I wonder about it a lot.

Even if you were ready,  I wasn’t. I know that’s selfish. But I miss you.  I miss our random conversations about everything and anything.  I miss getting random texts from you and the bizarre phone calls and facebook messages we would swap when I was homesick in Germany or sad in New Zealand. Even though I was thousands of miles away,  you were always there for me and always had the right thing to say.   You helped me more than I ever let on and I wish I could tell you how much of a difference you did make because I didn’t when I should have and had the chance to.

In the last month, two of the people I’m close to have told me they’ve considered ending things. It’s really made me think of you. I don’t know what to say to them. I wish I could talk to you to see if anything would have made you change your mind. I will always wonder if I could have done anything to help you. I don’t want to lose more people, especially the way I lost you. I know you would have the right words if you were still here. You always did. And then there were the times you had the, well, not so appropriate conversations.

I will never forget the morning we ran into the our professor and his wife and you insisted they come with us in your quest to find a nude beach. And when you couldn’t find one,  you made one yourself. AND you got the others to join you! I never thought I’d say this, but I preferred the Speedo!  I remember the day you got it (and convinced the other guys to get them too) for one Euro!  You were so excited.  “It’s Europe!  You have to do as the Europeans do.  And they don’t wear anything but these!”  Only you.

I’ll always remember the conversation we had in Florence that went on for hours and hours and it was just you and me.  “Mom” was really mad at you that night and I thought she hated ME because we were gone for so long but you assured me that that wasn’t the case and for whatever reason, I believed you.  You were right.  Although, you failed to mention that you told her that you had been telling me all of her secrets, which is why she was mad.  Not to mention untrue! I learned so much about you that night.  I’m glad you shared as much as you did – it helps me understand some of the things you were struggling with last year I think.  You were dealt a difficult hand.

I’ll never forget the night Mother Goose and I were in the loft in your room and you went crazy because One or Two wasn’t there as well. And then you forgot we were there after stumbling down those insane stairs and you started dancing in the dark that awkward/amusing dance you did until White Knight and Circle came in and you suddenly stopped because no one could see you dancing as such.  Not to mention your other dancing, which thanks to a decent memory and Rummy’s all too revealing videos, I will always envision it whenever I hear Alors on Dance or see plaid, thanks to your obsession with those shemaghs!

I will never be able to forget (ok, White Knight helps bring this one up as often as he can too) the night you poured me “a” shot, filling an entire solo cup with straight vodka. Thanks for that. But you’ll be happy to know I’ve never had a better shot poured for me than from that night and that was entirely due to you. I may have developed a reputation among some people about pouring all too generous shots for them, but you, my friend, were the master.  And that I’ve never met anyone who could be as coherent as you after getting Jewish.  Although a friend of mine does develop a similar laugh to yours after a few shots- how appropriate.

Some graffiti the Sandman found picture worthy

Some graffiti the Sandman found picture worthy

I’ll always remember trying to sneak you into the hostel when you didn’t bring your passport to Switzerland and your only concern was that I wasn’t getting enough pictures of the graffiti everywhere!  It didn’t even come close to phasing you that you were in a foreign country without any legal ID, all because Mother Goose told you it wasn’t necessary. You even tried convincing the lady at the desk that it wasn’t important because it was Switzerland! And then when all was said and done, you and I went for that walk up ALL those stairs and that really steep hill because you wanted to be a part of the natural beauty surrounding us instead of in the man-made contraption that wasn’t free. And the staircase to nowhere!

Italy and my life wouldn’t have been the same without you and now that you’re gone, there is a void that can’t be filled.  I know you’re with me when I need you to be though. When I flew to Albany, I knew you were sitting in that empty seat next to me with your arm around me watching the clouds with me. I know that’s weird, but I also know you understand it even if the rest of my readers think I need psychiatric help.  I know you were also there on your birthday when I had a shot just for you, on what should have been your 21st.  I will always love you.  I will always think about you and the amazing times we had together.  I wish you were still here, but I know you are now in a better place and watching down on us, happy.  And really, that’s all that matters.

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