Yesterday, April 14, 2013, a dear friend of mine passed away. I learned later that there would be no funeral or memorial for him. This is outside my experience and I feel at a flailing loss. I feel an intense need to do something, anything. Below is what I would say about him if there were a funeral and I were asked to speak.
I have, literally, known Noah for longer than anyone I am not related to. We have been friends since I was thirteen - 21 years. I could tell you stories about Noah. I could tell you about the time he nearly broke my wrist playing Egyptian Rat Screw. About the time he threw the dice when we were playing Risk and we lost one and couldn't finish the game. I could tell you about the time he drove all the way to the Kings Island exit because he wouldn't believe that I was right about the location of Riverbend. I could tell you about the time he swore he'd never speak to me again over Eric Clapton. Or when he nearly killed on of my ex-boyfriends for calling me a name.
They are funny stories. Stories that maybe should be written or told. Stories that not only make me laugh now, but also wrap up neatly who Noah was at his core: determined (or stubborn), passionate (or temperamental), and fiercely protective. He was a fighter, never failing to stand up for his friends, his opinions or his beliefs.
But telling those stories would betray what was at the heart of our friendship. Noah and I talked. Not all the time, we'd sometimes go months or on a couple of occasions, years, between our conversations, but when we talked, we talked for hours, deeply and without reservation. I had no secrets from Noah, because I'd eventually tell him everything. It's possible that he knew me better than anyone else.
We would talk about anything and everything, laying on the floor, staring at the ceiling. Sometimes well into the night. For years, I would come home from work some days to find that he had broken into my house and was just waiting for me to get home so we could play cards and talk.
Noah was there the night after my son died. He was there the day my daughter was born. He was there when I walked down the aisle, and in a different sort of way, he was there when I backed apprehensively away from my marriage.
Noah was a constant presence. Even when he was out of sight, he was always there. Today is the first day since I was an awkward, shy eighth grade girl that I have woken up to a world without Noah. I'm not sure that I'll ever become accustomed to it. I cannot understand why the rest of the world isn't reacting somehow to the hole he left behind.
In the end, he was angry with me. Angry because I called him out and angry because I wasn't as strong as he wanted me to be. He wanted me to be perfect, to prove to him that it could be done. I failed him and even though I know that there was nothing else I could do, I have had as difficult a time forgiving myself as he has had. The day before he left us, though, we talked like it had never happened. Because in many ways, it hadn't. At the end of the day, there was nothing left to say. We were who we always were.
In the end, the only thing left to be angry about is that he left us.