My best friend, for 56 years, is being buried today. We grew up together, and literally never lost that childhood friendship. We talked the evening before he died last week, planning a visit as soon as my surgery and recovery was over.

The next morning, I got a call early from his cell, didn’t think anything about it, until I heard his wife’s voice saying he’d died about an hour earlier…

He and his wife have been there for me through thick and thin, a divorce, career decisions, and the random phone calls for years.

And I can’t be there for them…

That truly hurts, because it’s only five hours away, but recovering from my surgery, there is simply no way I can do it…

So in their time of need, I’m failing them, and it’s not, to me, a trivial thing. I know, and know you will say it’s not my fault, and I get that. But it’s a personal thing for me. I have a lot of acquaintances, but very few ‘true’ friends that I would do anything for, and they would do anything for me. He and his family fall into that category.

The family knows my situation, and were actually concerned about how ‘I’ was doing, more than what they were going through. They’ve got the situation handled, with friends and LEOs, who are reaching out to support them, as he’s a retired LEO, so on that aspect, I know the funeral and other things will get done expeditiously, and correctly.

It’s the moral support, and the quiet decisions that will have to be made that are the real concern. We’re not 21 anymore, and we know that. The kids are doing all they can, but as always, there are things that will need to be done that they can’t/won’t be involved in, such as disposing of property and collectables that their dad has, that are worth real money to the right collectors.

There is a whole subculture that loves nothing more than making money off families in situations like this. We had actually talked about this a while ago, with reference to a mutual friend’s wife who basically got robbed out of tens of thousands of dollars worth of handguns and old rifles.

None of us are rich, and with his death, there isn’t much left for the wife to live on, nor is her health the best. So I plan to do what I can to help them out. But to do that, I need to get there, before they start making uninformed decisions. I’m not going to say I’m an expert, nor particularly skilled in doing this, but I DO know how to reach out to people who are honest and will deal fairly with then.

Am I trying to assuage some guilt? Probably… I look around at the folks here who are supporting me now, keeping my morale up, keeping me fed with good home cooked soups, taking time out of their days and lives to help me.

And I can’t help a lifelong friend’s family in time of need.

Sorry for the rant, but I need to get that off my chest. I’ll be back in battery next week, one way or the other, I’ll get started doing what I need to do to help them. They were there for me, the least I can try to do is to be there for them.



Conflicted… — 33 Comments

  1. I’m sorry for the loss of your friend and the fact you can’t be there for the services. In our lives we could have been half way around the world when it happened and it would have been much less guilt.

    They know how you feel and will be glad to celebrate his life with you when your healed.

    Safe passage to your friend and peace be to both you and his family.

  2. Jim.. They have plenty of people underfoot right now to help with anything . Next week , next month , and hell even next year is when you can actually be useful as a true friend . Once the ” rush ” of the funeral is over and all the ” family and acquaintances” go back home is when the tough decisions must be made by his wife and kids . A true friend is the one that is there then either in person or via phone to at minimum be a sounding board because its damned lonesome for everyone involved as the minutia of death plays out .
    Condolences to you and the Family for the loss , but never forget to celebrate the richness his life brought into yours.

  3. We do what we can, when we can. The key is to make sure you do, as soon as you can. It does not feel good to not be there but feelings are strictly internal. You WILL honor your friend by what you do going forward.

  4. Outstanding comment from Farm Dad. One thing I’ll add is if his wife is expecting his pensions (civ or mil) and/or his SS, she will need help to navigate the frustrating process to get those sources to continue uninterrupted after passing of the spouse. A grieving widow should not have to deal with the paperwork and the comms with asinine gov drones.

  5. Hey Old NFO;

    My condolences to the lost of your friend. I do understand a bit, my best friend from school had died a few years ago and it was rough. it reminded me again of my mortality…like I needed reminders. You are bothered mightily because you are a class act and an honorable man and such things bother people like us, it is like a debt of honor and you feel obligated to repay the debt. Farm Dad is spot on…Even of you can’t be there this week, they understand it and once you go over there next week to help them out all will be good. There is a phrase I use when it comes to good friends and once they cross over…”Ich habt einer kamaraden gehabt…doo gibt keine bessern” It is German loosely translated “I had a comrade, there was none better” Again my condolences on your friend…Just know for what it is worth we in blogger land have your back.

  6. I’m sorry, boss. They know you’d be there if you could, and I’m sure you’ll be a blessing when you get down there. Heal well.

  7. *hugs*

    Right now, they’ve got a lot of help. But you’ll be there for them when they need it, after most everybody else is getting on with their lives.

    Funerals are for the living, not the dead: he’s already gone and won’t miss you not making it. (Besides, you can always go by later, and have a chat without everyone else around.)

  8. So sorry for your loss. You are a good person and you will be there for him in another way…to help his family and it will all be OK. May your friend rest in peace. Again, I am sorry for your loss.

  9. I’m very sorry for your loss. My condolences to the friends and family.

    Farm Dad is quite right about this. The first few days the surviving family gets inundated with home cooked meals, offers to help, and just about everything else you can think of. The thing is that three years after the funeral, help is still needed. Just calling on the phone and listening is a major, major contribution. Helping to make sense of a brand new world that doesn’t seem to work right is a big help.

    You can’t be there right this minute, and I can understand how you feel about that. But you’ll be one of the few that’s able and willing to help later one, and that’s invaluable.

  10. What Dorothy (and everyone else said). When you spoke on the phone to his wife, did you tell her not to make any big moves until after the funeral is over? That you can help her with a lot of the “what on earth is this and what do I do with it” details? Do you know who he had as executor of his estate? Can you call and talk to that person, probably a family member, let them know you would be happy to help locate experts to help with the values assessments?
    Those at least are things you can do over the phone. In a week or so, when you are back up and running, there will still be lots to help with. Most folks are not speedy-doo quick going through “the stuff”. Usually because they are emotionally exhausted from the past couple of days/weeks/months etc. Lots of times, just knowing she can call you whenever can be a huge help to the widow.

    My sincere condolences on your loss.

  11. A few years ago I lost a friend in similar circumstances. He lived close, but just making it to the bathroom without help was a big adventure at the time, so I didn’t go to the viewing or funeral.

    Ron was still lucid from time to time after being moved to hospice, and told his wife how he wanted his funeral done. That’s the only funeral I wish I had been able to attend.

    He wanted a New Orleans style marching band, and a party with an open bar. And that’s what he got. His parents were so outraged when they found out about the arrangements they tried to get a court order to block it. Apparently the furor among most of the other family members was also epic… his wife was being “disrespectful” for following his wishes instead of arranging the standard +1 Gathering of Gloom, apparently.

  12. A thought for ya, Jim, if the wife knows what you’re dealing with, don’t label yourself as failing them. Unless this was unexpected, both of them most likely already thought of you as not failing them because you talked the evening before he died.

    I hope these next few words won’t appear morbid or out of bounds, because I obviously don’t know anything about the health of your friend before he passed, but maybe that conversation was the last one he knew he would have with you, and they didn’t want you to know because they were concerned with what you were dealing with, and telling you would have caused you extra aggravation that they didn’t want you to have.

    + 10 for all the previous comments, and if I may suggest, have a celebration of his life after the funeral, for the good memories.

    My Condolences.

  13. Daddy you are the most honorable man I know, in this time remember you have given your ear and heart to Bill throughout his life and yours when you both have needed each other in person and over the phone when you could not be there. These are the times to remember and rejoice in. Bill is not there any longer and that is a hurt that will never heal but as with true friends you will never forget him he will be in your heart and your mind always. While You take the time to heal yourself remember the times that make you smile and laugh, this is what he would want from you. When you are able to go to his wife and children share these stories with them and let him live on in the memories.

  14. Hi Jim, Sorry about the loss of your close friend! Know what it feels like. Mom died while I was on a ship in middle of the Indian Ocean

    You’ll be there when the hubbub has died down and the Mrs. will appreciate it! Friend of 56 years are hard to come by. One of mine of 76 years is nearing
    that time to pass. Sucks.

    Condolences my friend
    , Everett

  15. Sorry for your loss, and sorry that you feel you’ve let the side down. But as TR said, you do what you can, with what you have, where you are, and it sounds like you’re doing that. And you’d be amazed at what a profound impact a small amount of sympathy or kindness can have on the bereaved.

  16. Jim,
    I’m so sorry about the loss of your friend, and your inability to do what you want to do regarding his passing.
    Sometimes, Life sucks.
    But, we who remain need to band together to support one another in such times.
    I, too, am hamstrung because of recent circumstances. Know that I am with you in spirit, at least.
    As are many others.
    With Love and Respect,

  17. How about looking at it like this. You cannot help the family through this…Yet. They know you can and will when you are able. Is it perfect right this moment? Nope. But later it probably will be. Does not help to beat your self up when you just cannot, instead, resolve to do what you can, when you can.
    Jesse in DC

  18. Sorry for your loss. I believe you will get there when you are needed the most. Believe in His plan.

  19. Jim, Sorry for this. I know the pain. When my grandmother died a few years ago, I was just recovering from another leg surgery and could not go. Life does us like that sometimes. But like the others have said, the best thing you can do is be there for her in a couple of weeks, when the rest of the supporters have gone back to their own lives and she’s alone and trying to deal. Believe me, that makes a difference.

  20. Hang in there man. Like the rest said, you’ll be back in the game with plenty of time to help them out soon.

    Doesn’t make it suck any less, but there you have it.

    Get well soon, and if there’s anything we can put in the mail to make you comfortable, you have our numbers.