Tomorrow would have been my friend Alex’s birthday. He never made it to the age of 40. His faith in God was so powerful that even when he was having the worst day ever, he gave the glory of the good and the bad to God. His father is a fairly famous painter in the area and he looked a lot like him. But Alex wanted to make things happen on his own. He didn’t want to ride the coattails of his father. When I would be having the worst day ever, I could call him and he would always make me laugh by saying “So, basically.” Almost every sentence he used that phrase and it became a trademark for those who knew him best.
It’s been a couple of years since he was taken from diabetes. Alex was one of the most musically gifted people I had known. His love of Jazz was infectious. He wasn’t close to his brother but when it came to his friends he would give almost anyone the shirt off his back. It’s difficult for me to not think about him. But he’s not the only Alex that I remember.
The other Alex was a friend of mine when I attended East Carolina University. He was about 5’10, stayed tan almost year round, had one of the curliest heads of hair I’ve ever witnessed and had a gentle soul. He once told a friend of mine that he wanted to date me and had he not dated my best friend at the time, I would have done it. His shyness was an issue and it would have been really awkward with my friend and I had I dated him. Alex sang in a band with a man that would later become my fiance. They were best friends. Alex didn’t like what he saw in how I was being treated in that relationship and he told me to get out while I could. It took a while. But I left. I never saw Alex again. A couple of years later I got a letter from my ex saying Alex had been killed in an car accident. He was driving an older model truck and was t-boned after he and his girlfriend had a fight. How can you miss people that you were estranged from, right?
Over the last couple of years, I’ve begun to lose more and more people that I love. Cancer has taken them, diabetes, epilepsy, natural causes, strokes, heart attacks and other diseases have become issues that have been very difficult to deal with. Maybe it’s because when we lose people that we love, many times we never got the closure that we needed in order to make things more peaceful for us. Death itself isn’t a bad thing. What the worst part is becomes the notion that those who have died don’t suffer. The truth is we don’t know what happens when someone dies. We have our various beliefs and I choose to believe that the ones who have passed are in a better place but I don’t know for sure where their soul ends up. What I do know is that life is precious. It’s really difficult to let go of the emotional struggles that we face when we deal with death or a loved one who is dying. I’ve had too many friends die while they were still fairly young and I don’t understand why. Why do the people that we never thought would die, end up being the ones who impact us the most? I can’t answer that.
I know that we all have a time which is considered our time to go. There’s so much that I don’t know and even more that I believe. I do believe that there is a God or a higher power that exists. I remember these two not out of disparity, but rather a grateful heart that I had the privilege of knowing these two men that left an indelible mark on me. Both men were musicians who loved different styles of music. Alex from ECU trusted me to drive his truck which was a stick shift. (That was very high praise from him.) He didn’t let just anyone drive his truck. Both men reminded me to do more with my life than what I was doing. They both wanted me to spread my wings and fly.
So today, I remember both men with the name Alex that had I been blessed to have had a child their name would have been Alex. The thing they both had in common is that they reminded me and still remind me that true friendship never dies. Our bodies may not always be here but the bond that is established never fades. When we love and keep people close in our hearts, it is irrelevant as to the distance that separates us.
I’ve moved on and done amazing things in my life. But I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge these two men. I can still hear them jamming from the past with their music and their melodies will remain in my heart forever.
If there are people in your life that you have lost, remember the impact that they have had on you. Be grateful that you were able to be touched by them. Even the ones who treated you horribly taught you things that made you stronger. We all invest in relationships whether we want to acknowledge this or not. It’s up to us to remember the ones who imprinted their lives with ours. Because they are the ones who can hold the keys to how we embrace our future.
So to both men, I hope they have an incredible birthday wherever they are. I plan on doing everything I can to keep pushing myself forward, while I hear them cheering in memories from the past.