This is launch week for my new book, Beyond the Pool of Stars. And it’s only a few days since my new adventure went to press in Pinnacle’s Savage Tales of Horror volume 3. I should be a relentless promotion machine talking about both things.
But I’m having a hard time mustering the enthusiasm.
I went in for a minor medical procedure early this morning and when I returned home I had a message that an old friend of mine had gone in for a minor medical procedure the night before. Ironic. Both things were so minor we hadn’t bothered to tell each other.
The parallel ends with me coming out alive and well. Something went wrong while my friend was under and his brain was deprived of oxygen. He died early in the morning, probably at about the time I was waking to drive in for my own surgery.
I can’t stop thinking about his child, and his sister, and his parents, and his long-time girlfriend, and her little girl, who was like a daughter to him.
And I can’t stop thinking about him and his sly sense of humor, or the way we’d call and crack each other up like a couple of kids at junior high, even though we’re both closing on 50. We’d known each other since grade school, and in some ways we could still revert to that level of familiarity even now. He was masterful at doing accents. Being Indian, he once had me in stitches when he ordered a pizza with a thick accent and asked them to “hold the cow.” He improvised an entire routine that was so hysterical it really should have been put into script form.
He lived on the far side of the country these days, so we didn’t see each other much and sometimes months would pass in between when we would talk. The last time we did so was when he met Sir Paul McCartney. He called to tell me about it in a horrible Liverpudlian accent (the one accent I could always pull off better than him). He was always off doing amazing things and meeting fascinating people.
He was one of the hardest working people I ever met. He skipped a year in junior high, then skipped another in high school — by that I mean his grades were so good and he was so smart that he got bumped ahead. Twice. He was always working hard, and working long hours. Too long, everyone will tell you. Somehow we kept in touch, though. He was part of my wedding party and I was his best man. We laughed and gamed and talked movies and commiserated about life’s difficulties.
He was a surgeon, and dedicated his life to helping people. He’d been going through a rough patch and was hoping to retire early so he’d have more time to enjoy life.
And now he’s gone. What can I take away from that? Maybe to remember to take less for granted? To try harder to stay in touch with those I love?
But I don’t think there’s a lesson to learn, or some greater plan. I just think it really, really sucks, and I’m terribly sad. And I keep thinking about those who were even closer to him and can’t really wrap my head around how they must be feeling. I mean, if I’m in shock, where are they?