I have had two friends that I have known for the past twenty years, that are not LIKE family, they ARE family to me. Much to my pleasure and happiness for them, they married each other 14 years ago, a bonus to be sure. My two best friends, in one wonderful package, so to speak.
On Saturday, to everyone’s surprise, and extreme sadness, my friend George passed away, in his sleep. It is perhaps cliché, but also true to say that we have seen each other through good times and bad, and I will not dwell on the sad times here. On the other hand I would like to share with you some of the happy times that I have shared with him/them over the years.
I met Aries in college at approximately the same time as Shazza, and so the three of us all hit it off knowing fairly early on that we were going to be the best of friends. Shortly after that, I watched the love between him and Shazza grow, and they became a couple. I couldn’t have been happier for them both, as they seemed meant for each other. All the while, our friendship grew as well, and they both became my “chosen” extended family. Although it was said from time to time, it truly was unnecessary to say the words that had become part of the bond between the three of us “Anytime, Anywhere”.
College ended, but our friendship continued, we were never that far apart, getting together was a regular thing. I fell in love with the woman that would eventually turn out to be my wife a few years later, and they welcomed her into “the pack” immediately, without reservation. Yet another level of happiness occurred when Aries and Shazza got married in 1996 and I was very excited to be a part of the wedding party sending them off as husband and wife. My wedding then occurred two years later and both Aries and Shazza had parts in it. He served proudly as my best man, and Shazza spoke some of our chosen words in our ceremony because we very much wanted them to be a part of our wedding day. The friendship between our two couples was so close, that we even invited them to join us for part of our honeymoon, as well as many subsequent vacations and anniversary trips over the years. When we adopted our son, we needed to get recommendation letters from family and friends to give to the Adoption agency. Since Aries and Shazza to us, were both friends and family, asking them if they would write one for us, was top of our list. After Jonathan came home with us from Guatemala, and he got older, he always had a great time with Aries and Shazza when we got together, and often remembered fun times that we had all spent together, especially riding on the motorized Razor that Aries had brought along for an outing we all took to Artesani Park one time.
Aries was a complete sci-fi, computer geek, and he and I had many a conversation lasting for hours, on the merits of Star Trek, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica, computers, software, and the like, lasting far longer than anyone else cared to be a part of. Yet we could still talk about the intimacies of our relationships, in ways most guys wouldn’t or couldn’t.
Over the past few years, he had been through a number of rough patches, but the last time I saw him, at our “Picnic in the Park” two weeks ago, He appeared to be more relaxed and happier than he had been in a while, and I was glad for that.
Some would say that knowing someone for twenty years, to any extent, could be enough, but I beg to differ, in this case, it wasn’t nearly enough by far.
Aries, you will be sorely missed.