Saturday, April 19, 2008


Today I mourn the loss of possibly the best, most loving friend I've ever had, C. She touched my life in a way so profound that, as I often remarked to her, mere words could not express the depth or breadth. She listened, truly listened, to me in my darkest, moonless nights. And I knew that she understood.

I can say that she was always there, right there, for me. No matter the circumstance, no matter how dark my state of mind, she could see me naked of artifice and project an enabling confidence that saved my life, from my own hand, not once, but twice. It's thanks to her that I'll live to see my daughter's wedding. She was there to share in my pain, through endless e-mails, chats and phone calls, no matter the time. Sadly, she will not be there to share in the joy my life has yet to reveal.

She was kind and caring always and in all ways. Today, my neighbor was kind enough to use his power blower to help me catch up on leaf collection that I'd been remiss in completing before the winter came. That kindness is repaid with beer, a debt easily settled once and then forgotten. But C had sacrificed so much in her caring for me that I know that were she here today I would be forever in her debt. You see, she was a masterful practitioner of the art of the Mitzvah, a Jewish concept, though she was far from being part of any of the Tribes as one could be. The idea is to take it upon oneself to do a good deed every day, without thought of self-benefit. And she did this for me out of her deep and abiding love that I did not deserve on any level. The debt I owed her could not be repaid in this lifetime or in the hereafter, of this I'm sure.

If you knew C, you know her ways. Steadfast, reliable, funny, oh, so funny and unshakable. There was no topic she couldn't address with me, no matter how complex or silly or avant garde. She would thoughtfully and, sometimes, very slowly, formulate a complex, thoughtful and reasoned answer to my insane interrogatories and I would come away lightened, heartened and wiser. She was humble, too, always telling me that she wasn't as good as I thought she was, but, I tell you this and I stand by it, she was that good and better. Her talent for communication was rare, the complexity of her personality, unique.

Her insights were enlightening to me and her observations so level that they usually stopped me dead in my tracks so that when I'd try to argue a point, knowing full well, instantly, that she'd hit the nail on the head and would have to give way to the infallible logic of the thing. I knew that I could trust her to be honest and somehow, when she was direct, she was still gentle and thoughtful and never hurting, though the truth of her words might be. Still, I never could deny her wisdom, except about me.

In retrospect, maybe she was right. Maybe I am a better person than I give myself credit for, but, in the end, I know that I'm less of a person without her around. If you knew her and had lost her, I know that you'd agree.

I tried to influence her to stop smoking. Earlier this year, she saw her doctor and he agreed to prescribe Wellbutrin, the drug I found effective in smoking cessation and in the inducement of mania. It was just like her to agree to start the drug, but not until the last carton of Parliaments her son got her were smoked. I would kid her that she was making me smoked whenever she lit up. Now, of course, it's no longer a laughing matter.

I lost my mother in December of last year. It took me quite a few months to realize that speed-dialing her, just to say hello, would yield nothing. I looked at my phone just before sitting down to write this and I realized that I wouldn't again hear C's voice, her guttural, hacking laugh, her plegm-induced smoker's cough. There's so much I would tell her now if I only could. The time for that has passed, another connection lost forever.

I miss you now, C, but there's nothing I can do to bring you back. I will try to honor you by taking your actions and your kindness to me to heart and to "pay it forward." Through this, I believe you will never be forgotten. Like you told me once, in the form of a quote from Moonstruck, I should "get over it." Unlike a movie, this loss will not end with the final roll of the credits. I will miss you, more than all the words in the Oxford Unabridged could ever express.