A dear friend of mine passed away suddenly last week. He was only 58 and left behind a loving wife and two sons. He and I met about 10 years ago. He was a general manager in the newspaper business so we had quite a bit in common. We became fast friends upon meeting and shared weekly conversations.
To say I was shocked when I was told the news of his passing would be an understatement. I had spoken with him just 17 hours prior. We were discussing mutual issues we were facing at our prospective newspapers and sharing possible solutions.
He was always a great sounding board for me. He was much more than a peer he was a trusted friend and that is rare nowadays. I knew I could voice my frustrations and shortcomings with him and it would go no further. He was a confidant that I could always count on.
He was very quick-witted and could always see the humor in any situation. Regardless of how frustrating or discouraging the situation he always left me laughing and feeling that is was not as dire as I made it out to be in my mind.
That all changed on that Thursday morning. When I received the phone call, I could not believe it. The person tasked with telling me did his best to convey the information as painlessly as possible. After hanging up the telephone, I sat in my office in stunned silence for what seemed like an eternity. I kept hearing my friend's voice in my head. His stupid jokes and funny quips played on an endless loop in my mind. Something about not hearing his voice again struck me. Having spoken with him just the previous day his cadence was fresh in my mind.
It seemed as if I had lost a compass point in my life. He lived for his work and always strived to do a better job for his employees and his newspaper. He was a wealth of knowledge about our industry. We always had a friendly competition running regarding who could have the best newspaper. He won most of the time but having a target to shoot for made me better.
He was a great family man and always put his family first. He cared greatly for his employees and always tried to do the right thing. I will miss my friend dearly. I am a better person for having known him. The world will be a little less bright without him in it.
Trying to express the impact, someone's life has is an insurmountable task. You do not feel the true weight of the loss until you reach for the phone to call them out of habit. Then you realize they are not there. Something they told you crosses your mind and you smile only to feel that smile vanish, as you comprehend their passing.
My friend made the world a better place. That is the greatest epitaph I think anyone can have. He was a true friend and those are rare in this world. If you have someone in your life like that, I encourage you to let him or her know what he or she means to you. I fell short with my friend and it will be a regret I will take to my grave. Do not make the same mistake I did.