On losing friends

I lost two friends this month. Not a very auspicious start to the year, and certainly not something I ever anticipated happening, at least not right now, in this way. Let me tell you a little about them.

When you socialize on a site like Facebook, you quickly see the phenomenon that I call the “internet interpropagation of friends.” A person from one facet of your life (say, elementary school) gets a kick out of someone from a completely different facet of your life (say, a knitting designer) and they friend each other. Pretty soon you get used to your college roommate exchanging bon mots with someone you used to work with, and you find yourself bonding with someone on the other side of the world who you might otherwise never have known, simply because you have a friend or two in common.

Doy was a friend I acquired through internet interpropagation.  He lived in another country and I never met him in real life, but he was a kind and funny soul. He liked to call me “child” and sometimes “welp,” even though I was several years older. He had the endearing habit of posting ridiculously hilarious (and often bizarre) photos on my Facebook wall. He was clever and a good writer and artist. I liked hearing about the world from a perspective thousands of miles away, and I loved seeing photos of him and his friends eating lunch food that looked so strange by American standards. He rarely posted photos of himself, but when he did, he always had a slightly shy smile. Before I even had a chance to think about why he hadn’t posted any photos on my wall lately, I heard that he had taken ill and was gone.

I miss him. I am glad I got the chance to have him in my life, even if I never met him in real life. Internet friends can be every bit as real and meaningful as the ones we see in person. Rest in peace, Doy.

Yesterday, I got a call on my cell phone around 5:15. It was my best friend from high school and junior high. She told me that a mutual friend of ours had died, suddenly and unexpectedly, without any prior illness. Woody was her brother’s best friend, and since we all spent so much time together in our younger years, he was an adopted big brother to both of us. Woody was, quite simply, the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet. He smiled a lot and although he was quiet, you could tell he was listening to every word that we said because every once in a while he’d crack a joke or make a remark that was dry and funny and absolutely perfect. He was the kind of guy who would do anything for you, whether you needed ten bucks, or a ride to the bus station or someone to give you a hug. He had a lovely wife, two still-young sons, and perhaps because he came to fatherhood a wee bit later than many of his friends, he relished every minute of being a dad, coaching soccer, being a Cub Scout leader and spending time with his boys. I have spent the last 24 hours thinking about his smile and feeling sad that I’ll never see it again. (I can’t find any of my photo albums that have photos of us in them but I”ll keep looking.) We spent so many holidays and summer vacations together. When we were in college or working away from our hometown, and we’d come back for a holiday or a wedding or a funeral, inevitably we’d all get together. When Molly’s dad died, Woody and I helped Molly and her brother clean out their parents’ home, laughing as we discovered high school relics in the basement or fifteen plastic grocery bags full of — you guessed it — plastic grocery bags stuffed behind the fridge. We went to bars together, dressed up for Halloween parties together (that was a wild one), occasionally hung out at the shore together but my best memories are of the many, many nights we all gathered at Molly’s parents’ dining room table, drinking and swapping stories and telling jokes and reminiscing. And laughing so hard we cried. Rest in peace, Woody.

I’m sad today.

I’m angry, too, angry at the randomness and the unfairness of it all, too. Two sweet souls who should have had another forty or fifty years of living ahead of them, and now they’re gone.

George Eliot wrote, “Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them.” I like that thought. I like thinking that even though I’ll never read a funny post by Doy or get a big hug from Woody again, those two won’t ever be dead to me because I will never forget them.

Right now, though, that seems like small comfort.

11 Thoughts

  1. Heather says:

    Awe, Carol…. Nicely said ;)

  2. Kate says:

    This was a lovely tribute and I hope it healed you a little to write it. They say writing can do that, somewhat. Here’s hoping the year offers you joy to balance this sadness, and I send my very sincere sympathies. I”m also sorry that we will never enjoy another Doy posting on your wall. Peace to them, and peace to you.

  3. Erica says:

    How pure and lovely that you took the time to share with us the light you saw in these two souls. You’ve added a little more light and happy to the world by sharing your impressions, and I am grateful. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  4. Nannette says:

    Wonderful tribute to Doy. I feel the same way. And you and I, and Doy and I, came to be friends, in that manner.

  5. Nannette says:

    And because we adore(d) the Oxford comma. Of course.

  6. Dee Sulenski says:

    My dear Carol, I am so sorry for these losses and I wish you Peace & Healing. I’ll have a big hug just for you when we meet, again.

  7. Marianne says:

    I’m so very sorry. I understand how much it breaks the heart.
    Have had losses here lately also. They make you reel.
    Big ginormous hugs sweethoar, for you. I like to believe in the concept of “forever”, and it has nothing to do with religion at all. It’s the energy, the essence of each of us. Sending thoughts of peace to you, Doy and his family, and to Woody and his family and all their loved ones all loaded with the love.

  8. Ruth says:

    I like that quote, too.

    I am so very sorry for your losses. Doy and Woody sound like great guys. How lucky you were to know them.

  9. Mindy says:

    oh honey. i’m so sorry. i like that thought, too. i strongly believe that there is peace afterwards- both my brother and Steve have told me that in their “visitation” dreams- that may not help now, but i hope it does in time. i know you made their lives funnier and warmer places- as their memories will make yours. xoxo

  10. KitKatKnitter says:

    *hugs* Life sucks when we lose those we love. And I’m sure you’ll all be meeting up sooner or later.
    And I get how the ‘net family of friends is. I’ve met several folks I still consider family years ago on a Stargate site that’s sadly since shut down, then we all migrated to another site that’s thankfully still up and on to Facebook. I’m grateful that we’re still able to update there and keep in touch.

  11. Roz says:

    You;re absolutely right: Internet friends are very real. I’m so sorry for your losses. Sounds like Doy and Woody were great people. I wish them both safe travels.

Reply to Roz