( Van Gogh painted his iconic The Starry Night in 1889 image from commons.wikimedia.org)
“Some people seem to fade away but then when they are truly gone, it's like they didn't fade away at all.”
― Bob Dylan,
An old friend from 25 years ago contacted me on Facebook Messenger the other day which both surprised and delighted me. It was also very coincidental that I came across a letter of his while organizing my closet. The letter was in a box of other letters of correspondence I had saved from back when writing letters were the customary form of communication, second to phone calls and one-on-one conversation of course.
The initial back and forth was pleasant and included the typical topics one must catch up on first, which included family, kids, marriage and such. His life was good with two wonderful children (a daughter in her early 20's and a son who just turned 14) and a marriage that just celebrated a 23 year anniversary. I was so happy to hear that life was so good for him.
That led to another exchange. "Isn't a shame about Pete? He was my daughters' Nino."
Now, that stopped me in my tracks. I had to access the far regions of my memory banks in order to recall the Pete I knew around this same time frame; which was again more than 25 years ago. The fact that my old friend said "Isn't it a shame", had all the signs of something tragic and sad happening to this person. At that moment, the only Pete I could think of was someone I worked with at a wholesale auto parts supply store. Those were the days I used to deliver auto parts to sometimes conscientious but most often aloof mechanics across the city. Pete worked behind the counter. His job was to punch in specifications from a car's make and model in order to locate the correct part out of our inventory at the warehouse.
A flood of memories filled my head of what life was like in those days. I remember my job as a parts-runner fondly. At the time, working full-time hours 6 days a week was a blessing for a single mom. I seem to remember being significantly more social in those days, meeting up with other part runners (almost all girls my age) while stopping at our warehouse to pick up parts. All the stereotypes of the late 80's and early 90's were alive and well and on display at all times. I seem to recall that is when I developed my disdain for terms like "hun", "sweetie", or "cutie". Pete was different than the rest. He was extremely polite and on the quiet side. I believe he was a couple years younger than me, but I could be wrong. I always felt a little older than people my own age. We liked the same music, books, and movies and could carry on decent conversations. Most often that sort of thing was difficult with others that worked there. That is why what I was told next didn't make any sense to me.
"I'm so sorry. I wasn't aware. What happened to Pete?", I messaged back
"He passed away while in police custody", he replied.
I didn't text back for a while. It's been so long since I've thought about Pete, but all my memories of him were of a quiet, kind and extremely intelligent person. What could have transpired in his life that he found himself in the position where he met his final days? It was then that I remembered getting a phone call from him out of the blue a couple of years after I left the auto parts store, completed business college courses and was working another job. I almost completely forgot about that call. He said he just had a baby with his new girlfriend. His son must be in his early 20's now. This out of the blue news just got sadder.
I didn't feel it appropriate to ask for further details or backstory about his life or demise. Just as you should never speak ill of the dearly departed, you should always remember the good and special parts of a person. He will always be a 20-year-old kid who was kind, quiet, quick-witted, and simply a lovely person to me.
Just like my old friend that contacted me out of the blue, no one I've ever known will be anything but lovely, appreciated and a valued part of my life. Our humanity will always be our greatest strength and most significant earthly miracle!
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
― Mother Teresa
Remember above all else to be kind to your friends, family members and those special people that mysteriously enter our lives just to leave an everlasting impression on our souls.
In memory of my old friend who will always be forever young.
Forever Young by Bob Dylan
Always stay classy,
Project Vintage US
Thank you for taking the time to read my blogpost and feel free to leave your thoughts and comments. I started writing pieces and posts to prove to myself I could articulate my thoughts in a way that made sense. I realized soon after that it was somewhat therapeutic to express my thoughts about life's mysterious twists and turns as well as all the wonderful lessons we learn on the way.