I always thought we’d meet up in an airport someday. We’d recognize a familiar face across the terminal, excitedly exchange overdue hellos, hit a seriously overpriced bar filled with lonely salesmen and frightened first time flyers, and catch up. We’d go through the usual conversation topics, the Do you remember that one times, the I can’t believe I forgot thats. Just us, talking like there never was a gap, like it hadn't been five years since we last chatted on the phone, like I hadn’t been gone for nearly ten. You’d tell me about your recent successes, I’d let you in on my recent failures. We’d share a laugh, share a hug, and share a promise to do a better job of keeping in touch. At the very least, we'd make the attempt, even though we’d both know that we’d be inconvenienced by our everyday lives, our thoughts too consumed by the present and future to dedicate much time to the past. But, at least we caught up, at least we renewed a bond that had been dormant ever since I moved, at least we’d know that a friend, a friend that was such a big part of our childhood, was alive and well and prospering.
I didn’t want it to be like this. I didn’t want to wake up to an IM from another old friend telling me that you had passed, that I’d never get to see you again. It didn’t matter that you had been absent from my day to day for that long, it was still a shock. Time may dull our memories, it may eat away at the who, the what, and the how, but it never touches the emotional connections. And that’s what makes this so painful, not just knowing that I lost a friend, but knowing that a line has been severed.
After receiving the news, I did what everyone else probably did. I remembered the stories, I looked at the pictures, and I read what everyone else was writing. They all said the same thing, how you were a wonderful person; courteous, considerate, charitable, caring, all those big C words that might get you a gold star in grade school, those words that you don’t realize are so important yet so rare when you reach adulthood. They all wrote about the John I knew, the John that I remembered, the John that I wished I’d run into one day.
I’ve been dealt enough death these past two years to know that the pain will eventually subside, that the demands of the daily grind are far too great to let my daydreams linger, to spend all my time thinking of what could’ve been and maybe what should’ve been. But, right now, it hurts. It hurts pretty badly. Not just knowing that you’re gone, but that we’ll never get to catch up, that I will never get to hear about your life from you instead of the hundreds of people that are currently feeling this same hurt, that are currently fighting desperately to remember every detail, every moment of life that you made even a little bit more tolerable.
No, we won’t have the airport, John, but I have a feeling that I’ll still be looking, searching every face for the friend from my true home, the one that helped me become the person I am today. And, while it’d be nice to be downing cheap brews, watching countless souls descend from the heavens, and laughing at those same jokes that had us in stitches ten years ago, at least I got to know you. I guess what I’m trying to say is that while we never got to trade our quick goodbyes under the departures board, at least we shared some time together, however fleeting. At least I can tell anyone that asks about the kind of person that John Pike was, one of the best friends I’ll probably ever have.
But, I hate writing these "at leasts" when it should've been so much more. It’s so hard to comprehend life without that chance encounter, our airport reconnection. For awhile, I’ll have to chalk up your nonappearance to you catching your flight, to me just missing you. And, damn it, hasn't that been the story of our friendship these past few years? Me just missing you? And, damn it, do I ever miss you…
Ra Ra Riot