Echoes in Eternity
My friend Troy died of liver cancer on April 11, 2012. He was 39 years and 6 months old. His birthday was nine years and five days before mine. I met him around the age of 10 or 11. The age difference between us then was more significant. I used to bring him chocolate milk at lunch time while he helped his dad build my dad’s new office. I remember seeing him sit on a cement ledge, eating his sandwich with his brother. I don’t remember what he looked like then.
The years in between are dotted with faint memories. He worked for my dad’s business for awhile as I grew up, so I would see him around. He got a reputation for hitting a lot of deer with his car. I can recall going to his brother’s wedding but not Troy’s. I remember when he got a motorcycle, and we met up one rainy night for schwarma. He was nervous to ride home in the dark drizzle.
Both of us had been married, then divorced. Both of us had moved away from Southern Oregon, then returned. He came home because he was battling a mysterious chronic illness and could no longer work. I came home because I didn’t want to raise my son alone on the opposite side of the country. Both of us had nothing else to do but discuss how our lives had gone wrong. And how we wanted so desperately for it to get better.
We would shoot pool, talking into the wee hours of the morning about our miserable love lives and how alone we really felt. But the comfort we found in each other was like siblings. Never questioning if the other would be there at the lowest point. It wasn’t uncommon for us to call each other and say, sushi? Then we’d meet up at our favorite local spot and try out different combos. Troy’s tried and true favorite was always a basic spicy tuna roll. Conversations would last hours over bottles of sake and endless edamame.
We saw so many movies together. Countless. Even now, some movie will come on and I’ll remember, oh yeah, I saw that in the theater ages ago with Troy. That’s the significance of the film for me. One of our absolute favorites was Gladiator. We’d watch it over and over, sometimes just having it on as we talked.
When I woke up that morning and found out he was gone, I wasn’t shocked. He’d been sick for a long time. The cancer had been slow to build but quick to take hold. But in the few months leading up to it, I didn’t take the time to see him, to connect with him the way we had done for so long. We were both remarried at that point and our friendship wasn’t as co-dependent anymore. Every now and then we’d run into each other at the store and do a mini catch-up. But the long nights of existential discussions had faded into our young adulthood. That night, I had a spicy tuna roll, like some kind of tribute.
For seven years I’ve tried to write about my friend Troy. And the same way I realized I had missed my opportunity to tell him how dear he was to me then, I see now that waiting so long to write about him now has cost me a few memories. How long before I no longer see his face in a crowd and forget what he looked like then, as I did when I was a kid? And while I still hear a few songs that remind me of him, or those unexpected movie memories will pop up, it feels as though each year he fades a little further into the past.
One thing’s for sure, I’ll never forget his hugs. No one ever hugged you as sincerely or genuinely as Troy. He was one of the kindest souls I will ever have had the privilege to know.