One year ago a good friend of mine died. He was one of the first people I got to know when we moved here. He was an artist, a storyteller, a poet, a musician, philosopher and dreamer. He always had a new idea, a fresh plan that would save the whole world for the rest of us. His name is Jim and I’m missing him today.
When he was coming down the stairs here where I work I could tell it was him before I saw him or heard his voice just by the way his feet sounded on the steps. He’d stop by some times and play my guitar and tell me a story about his past, present or future. I never stopped being surprised by the stories he told me. There was very little Jim hadn’t done. He was about 10 years older than me and had packed twice as much into his years as any normal man could. His art hangs in my home and in my office. He built a bookcase for my family room and he helped me renovate my downstairs washroom. I can put my hand on the wall where I know his hand rested, separated by time but not space.
He loved to be in the woods. He loved his mom and dad. He loved his friends. He loved creating. He would bring me lyrics to a song that he’d written that made “American Pie” by Don MacLean look like a jingle in comparison. He was generous to a fault and he had more women chasing him than anyone I’ve ever known. He’d been everywhere, tried everything.
One day he came by to see me and he left this little paper with me, a sentence that summed him up in so many ways. I’m sharing it here so you can catch a little of his flavour:
“I had a thought……it had revolutionary implications, it’s relevance could not be overestimated…….the profoundness in it’s simplicity possessed a beauty that had never been expressed in the history of the recorded word……wish I could remember what it was.”
That was Jim.
He wrestled with a monkey on his back for a lot of years. It finally did him in. I stood by him in the ICU and I was angry that he was there. Angry that some weasel who kept showing up at his door with free samples every time Jim got clean would never be charged for his complicity in my friend’s death. I was frustrated because there was nothing left for me to do but say good-bye to my friend. No more Chinese lunches, no more long talks, no more show-n-tell of his latest discovery or acquisition. No more laugh that came from deep in his soul, no more saying, “go on!” when I’d tell him a story about me that he couldn’t believe.
I’m planning on seeing him again. Sooner or later. For now I’ll look at his art, remember his smile and miss him. And that’s what I’m doing today.
*The painting above is by Jim. Give it a click.