A personal friend and professional colleague of mine died today, unexpectedly, in a situation he probably thought he would never have to worry about. I wasn't with him when it happened, but people I respect, admire, and like a great deal were. All I want to do is hug them. I don't know if that's for them or myself. Maybe both.
The last time I saw my friend was just a few days ago. We laughed and teased, flirting shamelessly. We made plans to hang out when we knew we would see one another again. A friend of mine made him blush, and I remember laughing.
I hugged him four times that day. He put an arm around my shoulder while we sat side-by-side talking to other people. Every time he hugged me, he picked me up off the ground. We reminisced about seeing each other the day before I had my youngest. He didn't swing me around in a hug that day. He gently and sweetly leaned down to hug me, conscious of my very pregnant stomach.
He always said he liked it when I answered the phone when he called the office. He said I sound like someone who works as a sex operator. Did I mention he was a shameless flirt?
And now he's gone. Forever.
I'm still in shock. Telling other people was the hardest part. It doesn't seem real. I keep waiting for someone to tell me this is the worst prank ever. It has to be. He can't be gone.
But he is.
The only thing that gives me any comfort is that my last memory of him is filled with laughter, us at our best.
I haven't found solace yet, but I will. The people who care about me are letting me lean or giving me space, whichever I need in the moment.
If you haven't done it lately, make sure the people you care about know how you feel. Do not go one more minute without telling someone you love them, hugging someone, smiling, something. Because you never know when it will be your last chance.