This past Thursday, I made a quick trip to Houston for a funeral. My best friend from childhood's father had passed away the previous Saturday. Now even though I haven't been in their lives all that much (if at all) in the past 23 years since leaving Houston, I felt I owed it to him and his father to at least be there, even if I can't offer them anything more.
During the different periods of my life, I've had multiple "best friends". After Houston it was Mike A. and Jose. In college it was Mike R. After college it was Rachel. Currently and for the remainder of time it's KC.
When I was a kid it was Tim.
Multiple times during the week, I was over at his house hanging out after school. We'd take turns spending the night at each other's house every other weekend. Tim had the same appreciation of GiJoe, Transformers, Star Wars, He-Man and MASK like I did. We'd usually have major Armageddon-esque inter-toy franchise battles on those weekends. It was one of those friendships you see between kids in movies.
You know the movies were one of the kids, gets a special gift and promises the other will always be included but turns out acting like a d-bag and not knowing it. Well, our friendship was like that, except the special gift and one of us becoming a d-bag part.
So spending a lot of time with Tim, I spent a lot of time with his family. I'd have dinner with his mother and father, whom I came to respect and even envied at times. I really respected his parents and family and was sad when I had to move away in the Summer of 1988.
I'd come to visit the next few summers, each time both of us growing up and away from what initially brought us together as kids. It had been about 14 years since we talked when I found him on MySpace and then met him in 2007 to help him sell his house. It was great seeing him and hearing about his family. We'd exchange comments or whatnot on Facebook, but nothing really definitive.
We had moved on and we're living our individual lives, and they don't involve toy battles between Cobra and The Millennium Falcon.
I've often wanted to stop by his parents house to say hello on some of my trips to Houston, but fear of them not remembering me made me not follow through.
So when I got a message from Tim on Tuesday that his father passed, I was heart broken. Both for someone who I knew and respected had died, but also obviously because my best friend from childhood had lost his father. Me going to the services was not a question, I knew I had to make it.
So I took off work, got a rental and drove in the middle of the night to Houston. I crashed at my grandparent's house (which was also centrally located of everything) for a few hours and went to the services Thursday morning.
I didn't make a point to seek him out prior to the services because of all he was dealing with. The services were good and I was glad I was privy to some of the traits and idiosyncrasies when Tim and his brothers talked about their dad.
When everything was over, we were invited to view the body of his father and give our condolences to the family. I first came to his brother TC who had no clue who I was on account he was possibly 5 the last time I saw him. I next came to Tim who saw me, pulled me to him and wept. He thanked me over and over again for being there. I moved down to the line to his mother, who looked up at me and did recognize me after two decades.
I talked to him momentarily at the grave site, then met up at his mother's house afterwards. We got to talk for a while. I felt I was monopolizing his time when he came to talk with me while I was there. I met his wife, I would tell him stories about my kids. We talked about old times and laughed a lot.
I had to leave because I had to get the rental back to San Antonio at a certain time. The whole drive back, I was glad I was there for Tim, his mother and their family. I didn't offer anything other than just physically being there. I wasn't able to give them and comfort in their time of hurt and loss. It was just being there that meant the world to them.
Even though we hardly spoke in 20 years, I still consider Tim a best friend of mine. I'm not under any false pretense we're going to start hanging out more now. If it happened to any of my friends above, I'd do the same thing.
I also would hope my children develop a bond of friendship with someone, they would be an anchor for their friend (even if it's a small amount of time) if they hadn't seen them in years. I remembered MaddSkillz was recently in a situation like this when his best friend from elementary school's mother died suddenly.
It helped his friend that MaddSkillz was just there.