The Problem Is, I Thought I Had Time
Updated: Jan 25
I met my friend Trent four years ago on a dating site. We agreed to meet for dinner and when he walked in, I smiled immediately. Short and stocky with thick red hair, big eyes and bigger smile, he was just incredibly likable. We ordered drinks and talked like we had known each other for years. We had a lot in common; both of us had served in the military, we liked the same movies, had the same sense of humor. The only problem was, we had zero chemistry. As the evening started to wind down, he suddenly became very serious.
"Can I ask you something? Will you be completely honest?" he asked.
"Sure", I answered, wondering where he was going with this.
"Do you feel anything romantic? Anything at all?"
I sat there for a minute, wondering if honesty really is the best policy. Then I said "I'm sorry. Not in the least". Trent threw back his head and laughed, then looked at me and said "Oh thank God! Me neither!"
Thus began one of the best friendships of my life. We saw each other through the perils of dating in our 40's, teenagers, and ex-spouses. We did a lot of laughing and enjoyed the refreshing freedom of saying exactly what was on our minds. We really "got" each other, on every level. We would go months where we talked every day and then months where we didn't talk at all. There were many times when a woman he was dating wasn't comfortable with our close friendship, so we would agree to just not talk for a bit while he figured it out. We used to call it the "Witness Protection Program" and that's where I hung out until he decided if she was a keeper or not. He always came back around, though. When I moved to New England, he was going to come visit me, but work got in the way. We said we would get together when I moved home, but life took off again, and that never happened.
The last time I spoke to him was in late April of 2018. He was excited to hear about my new relationship, caught me up on his kids and was his normal, jovial self. He had a new girlfriend, so I asked him if I was getting ready to go back into the Witness Protection Program. "Maybe", he said with a laugh. We made plans to get together that summer, whether she liked it or not. Little did I know it was the last time I would ever hear his voice.
Life can get so hectic. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the day to day issues, that you don't realize how fast time is going by. When Christmas rolled around and I hadn't heard from him, I sent a text, but he never texted back. It wasn't that unusual and once again, I got busy and didn't follow through. By the time spring came and I realized it had been a year since we talked, I started to get mad at him. I wanted to tell him "Jeez, dude, tell her to get over it so we can hang out again", but I didn't call him. I was just so busy and assumed he was, too.
Last Saturday, I decided enough was enough and called him. His phone had been disconnected, which was odd. I looked for him on social media, hoping to send him a message. When I finally found his page, I was devastated to learn he had passed away from massive heart attack, just four months after we had last spoken.He was only 47. He had been gone a year and I didn't even know it. We had no mutual friends and his family isn't from here. No one would have had any reason to notify me. I missed his funeral and my last chance to say goodbye. I know he's out there somewhere, laughing at me for being mad at him when he was actually dead. He would have loved to give me a hard time about that...
I'm so mad at myself for letting time and busyness get in the way of a truly amazing friendship. I hate that he never got to meet my fiance or that I never saw his grandson. It kills me to know that his friends gathered together to grieve and tell stories and that I missed it. More than anything, though, I'm so sad that I never got a chance to tell him how much I loved him. I wish I had said how much he meant to me and that he made my life better. I guess I didn't think I needed to...I thought we had time.
I have learned a very painful lesson about making time for people, but maybe that's what he came to teach me. Nothing is guaranteed in this life, so you have to say what you feel today. That friend you've been thinking about? Call them. Haven't seen your Mom in awhile? Go hug her. The Buddha said "The problem is, you think you have time". Truer words were never spoken. I let life get in the way until there was no life left and no matter how badly I feel about it, it's too late now. I'm going to have to live with that and I think I hate that most of all.
Goodbye, my sweet, funny friend. When it's my time, I hope you come to get me. I hope you know how much I miss you. Know you are loved.