Poet Billy Collins
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Post Title: My friend Bob

Post Date: March 25, 2013

I lost one of my best friends on February 26th. Heart attack, in the morning. Right outside his home. They didn’t find him for a half hour. His daughter was going to take him to his exercise class. Very shocking news. Dead. His family had a memorial service for him this past weekend. My wife and I drove to Sacramento. We think that friendship lasts forever but it has limits. And then we find they don’t.

We tried to call each other at least once a month. He came to visit us a couple of times. We would see him on our yearly trips to Sacramento or Lake Tahoe. He was a great friend. And I had just spoken with him two weeks prior. It hit me hard. He was my best friend. He was our Best Man. I had known him for 34 years. 

I met Bob in 1979 when I was a crazy, mixed-up kid, looking for a way to live my life with joy and happiness. I was running away to the mountains to find God. I wanted to drop out, live my life as a hermit, to learn to fish and hike. Bob became my friend when the hotel I was working for assigned me to the restaurant where he was also a cook. Eventually Bob became my roommate. Or I became his. The apartment at the Y in Tahoe.

Bob taught me to have fun. Bob taught me to love baseball. Bob taught me how to shoot pool. Bob taught my wife Kate that it was okay to jump in a lake with her clothes on, after dinner, on a cool summer evening.  

But he taught me how precious it is to know someone well enough to call them friend. I thank him for that. I thank him for the 30 years of friendship. I owe him a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. 

Post Title: For Bob. February 26, 2013

Post Date: March 25, 2013

The dreaded phone call came that afternoon. We all know it is coming but find it hard to accept, nonetheless.

I received a call from my best friend’s son, Brian.

Brian: “Hi David, this is Brian. I need to tell you that my dad passed away this morning.” And I sat there thinking to myself, Brian? Who is Brian? Oh, yeah. His dad passed away. Oh wait, his dad is Bob. Bob, my best friend. The best man at my wedding. Sh*t.

And so it went. It was horrible news to hear. He had been a good friend for 34 years. I knew him through two marriages. I met his family, his brother and sisters, his kids, his wives (well, two of them, anyway) and his grandkids.

Brian had no information about services or even when Bob’s siblings would arrive. I told Brian I would call him back in two days.

The night the news came, I went to hear the poet Billy Collins. Billy spoke of silences. I thought of the silent news. The news that makes you silent, the “what else are you gonna do” silence. The look you get when something is explained to you and it leaves you without words. The surreal acknowledgement that you don’t belong in this moment.

I found out tonight. And I was asked if I was still going. Still going to hear a poet I had barely heard of. But, Billy, you helped me. You said we turn to poetry in the times when we need it. We turn to it for emotional intelligence. Poetry is an invitation to slow down. I was using my escape to a poetry reading as a way to slow down and take an inventory of all that I had and all that I had lost.

My wife had known him almost as long as I had; Crazy Old Bob. I remember all of his jokes. I remember all the old times. I will miss him. I just don’t know what to do now. We are going to be in Monterey on Saturday. I don’t know when the arrangements are. So sad. I’m going to bed.

Title: Pondering Dave | Address: ponderingdave.blogspot.com

Author: Dave Normand | From: El Cajon | Blogging since: September 1997

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