On This Day...

Friday, August 24, 2007
Today is a significant day for me. It was on this day 15 years ago, that I lost a friend - one of the best friends I've ever had. I write about him every year. I try not to talk about how he died, but how he lived. So today I'm going to start from the beginning...
When you're a kid, summer is a magical time filled with adventures and possibilities. When we finish school and get older, somehow that magic fades and we forget what it was like to be so young, carefree and optimistic. With age, it becomes a season instead of the adventure it once was. My last summer of magic and optimistic youth was the summer of '89.
That summer, my high school sweetheart dumped me for the 2nd consecutive summer (wanting the time to be free before the fall when he’d decide he wanted a girlfriend again). I was down in the dumps and a friend invited me to a party to try to cheer me up. She wanted me to meet her new boyfriend and said that he had a friend she knew I’d hit it off with. She’d been telling me about him for weeks and thought it was time I started seeing other people. I told her I had no interest in being fixed up, but I’d go to the party on the terms that I’d meet him and see for myself what I thought. I never could have known that it was on that day that my life would be forever changed.
Her boyfriend was my friend I started this post talking about - Jeff. We hit it off immediately. We were instant friends and behaved like brother and sister from the get go. To this day, I have never connected with a friend so instantly. He had 2 friends with him - one that I also was fast friends with and the other, was the friend my girlfriend wanted to fix me up with. He was a gorgeous blond, blue eyed charmer that I was instantly struck by. I remember the moment we met – I knew I was done for. My friend introduced us and I swear for a moment there was no-one else there but the two of us – it was like a scene from a movie. He took my hand, looked me straight in the eyes and repeated my name as if he wanted memorise it. He smiled as he did this and I was a goner. Throughout the rest of the day, when we weren’t together - he watched me and didn’t mind at all if I noticed. Needless to say, we also hit it off and I would spend the following 10+ years in love with him.
From that day, for the rest of the summer we were together – the five of us. We had a wonderful time - The last of the magical summers. By summer’s end – the three guys were leaving. Two, joined the service and Jeff took a job working with the military. For the following years the couples tried to survive long distance relationships and as friends, we all tried to survive the dramas of it all. The next time we were all together again was at Jeff's funeral 3 years later.
Jeff and I were always very close. He was like an overprotective brother who always looked out for me. I can't say this didn't have it's complications in the group dynamic, but he always had my best interest in mind. We had a strange connection that I was never able to explain. He always knew when I needed him (even when it had been months since we last spoke). I remember one night in particular - it was the middle of the night and I was awake and crying over my latest heartbreak with his friend. Jeff called me saying 'What's wrong - I felt like you needed me and had to call' He was calling from Hawaii. I couldn't believe it and just said - How do you do that?? How do you always know?? We spent the entire night talking and I can't say what a comfort he was. It was like that from the start and stayed that way until he died.
In 1992, a drunk driver ran a stop sign and hit the car Jeff was in. He had a massive head trauma and spent weeks in a coma. I didn't find out about the accident until he had woken up and went to see him as soon as I got the news. I spent the following few months visiting him nearly every day in the hospital and when he got well enough, I took him out on the weekends as well to try to help him feel normal again. When he woke up from the coma, he thought it was still 1989. He thought nothing had changed, but by that time everything had changed and it was hard for him to understand.
He was different after the accident, but to me it didn't matter. I almost loved him more for the person he became. Although he was almost child-like at times with a sweet innocence that only a head trauma could give (god he'd hate me saying that), he was still Jeff. I always described it as 'Jeff without the attitude.' He didn't hold back. He said everything he thought when he thought it and he told me he loved me a lot. His face lit up every time I walked into his room and he was an amazingly strong through his recovery.
We were really close through those months - Closer than ever. Then one day I got the call - he died in the middle of the night. A blood clot (he was aware of but never told me about) went from his brain to lungs. In an instant he was gone, but while he was here he lived better than most. He loved with no boundaries and he smiled more than anyone I've ever known. I will always miss him and I will always be grateful for the time we had while he was here.

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