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Rest in Peace to a Childhood Friend

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I lost a childhood friend today. He was the first of our crew to pass away. At 6:00am my phone buzzed with a text message from another of my old friends, Kevin. The message was short…”Mike passed.” 

What a tough way to wake up.

I had been waiting for a call like that for some time. About a month ago I got the news that Mike was sick; really sick. I called him and he said to me with all the courage I remember him having all his life, “My body isn’t doing so well. They sent me home because there wasn’t anything they could do for me…”

His faith was strong even if the doctors had given up. He felt he had done his part to ready himself for whatever was to come. The conversation was difficult for me, but for Mike it was, as he said, “…what it is.” He seemed to have no regrets except that maybe he had cheated his wife and kids by checking out so soon. 

 

That’s so Mike. He was always taking responsibility for things that were really out of his control. Yeah, there was a time in his life when he did some things that he surely couldn’t have been proud of. He had made some mistakes. But haven’t we all?

I would spend the next few hours reflecting on our childhoods…remembering the good times that led to a lifelong friendship even though, for the last twenty years we were 800 miles apart.

But we were always more than just friends, we were brothers. There was a girl we knew when we were teens who used to call us the “Bobsey Twins” because we were always together. 

Whether it was sports or girls, we were always in each other’s company. We did a lot of double dating in our teenage years. My first real girlfriend and I hung out all the time with Mike and his girlfriend Pam, who would become his first wife and mother of his three children.

His eldest daughter, Errin, is my goddaughter. I must admit, I haven’t been much of a godfather. In fact, the running joke was my nickname, “Lousy Godfather”. The reality is that you became your best friend’s child’s godfather because you were your best friend’s best friend, not because you knew anything about what being godfather meant.

There were no rules; no expectations. Mike asked if I would be…I said yes and voila, I was Godfather. Today, for me, that title really means so much more. I wonder how Errin is doing today. I wonder how the whole Coates family is doing. Mike’s sons Michael and Maurice; his stepchildren; his brothers Joe-Joe and Vincent, his sister Sharon even his ex-wife Pam. 

You try to brace yourself for these types of things, but you can never be ready. It all serves as a reminder that life isn’t promised; that we must live each day with gusto and meaning. That we must take good care of ourselves and our loved ones. 

Although we haven’t spent much time together over the last two decades, I’m going to miss my friend. We all grow and move in different directions as we grow. That surely was the case with Mike and me.  But I’ve found through this that the bonds that are developed early last a lifetime and although you may be separated by miles and miles, there’s a closeness that can never be wiped away. 

Rest in peace, my friend. Rest in peace.

 

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Eric Von is a former radio talk show host and a publisher of Brain Brawn & Body (brainbrawnbody.com). You can contact Eric at eric.von@brainbrawnbody.com.

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Guest Saturday, 27 May 2017