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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short true story of loss, friendship and perspective



It was a crisp evening in late October. I headed out to meet two of my friends and record another episode of our podcast. It was a loose fun night of storytelling and laughs.as always we had a few beers and broke each others balls. These guys are two of my closest friends and on this particular night I was so glad to be with them,


As we began breaking down gear and cleaning up, I noticed my best friend’s wife through the window standing outside with her mom. This struck me because she never comes looking for me unless me and Brendan are together.she asked me to step outside and as I did, she said”he’s gone”. I didn’t understand. Gone where? I thought, where would he go without me? As I watched the tears well up in her eyes I knew what she meant. my best friend was dead. the two other closest people to me were just beyond that door.as I hugged his wife I tried to process my life without him. My brother, My best friend.


I walked back through that door and told my buddies “he’s gone”. Brendan’s passed away, he’s dead. I stepped out for a smoke and let my tears roll down. The boys came out and refused to leave me. We went to our favorite bar and those guys sat and drank with me for the rest of the night.

The next day the phone didn’t stop and that numb feeling started.

This group of guys that we refer to as “The Fellas” all came together to console each other and go about the business of doing what needed to be done. Flowers were ordered and a bagpiper was arranged to play in front of the church. The next few days were a blur of tears. Just going through the motions, running down that checklist in my head. Did we get in touch with everyone? Drop my suit at the cleaners. Did I eat anything today? It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. I was angry. I’m still angry. You don’t die at forty. You don’t leave behind a wife and a six year old daughter. It wasn’t fair. To die sitting on a bench waiting for a bus. Was he cold? How many people walked by? How long was he out there before somebody thought to check on this now lifeless body? What about me? You left me! That wasn’t the plan brother. That doesn’t matter either.

The day of the wake came, all the fellas cleaned up pretty good all in our suits we walked arm in arm up to the casket. That wasn’t him in that box. That wasn’t our friend. His skin was ashen and the dopey smirk we all loved was wiped from his face. You could see true pain and sorrow in the eyes of his mother, brothers and wife. I’ll never forget the lost and confused look on his little girl’s face, not quite knowing what was going on. We got flowers in the shape of a shamrock and all hugged and cried. There was laughter among the tears as we told stories and joked as well. Brendan loved to laugh and have a few beers. So after the wake a few of us went out and did just that. Celebrating the life of a guy i’ve known since I was five years old. Brendan was always the first one there if anyone needed anything and now he isn’t there anymore. Just like that.

I’ve lost people before. My father died when I was only a year old. My grandmother who helped raise my sisters and I passed when I was fourteen. This was different. Nothing would ever be the same again. I guess it meant we were getting older. We had lost one of our own. We were saying goodbye to our brother, Everything felt heavier, we were moving in slow motion. We were no longer the young smart ass kids having keg parties in Prospect Park with our whole lives ahead of us and not a care in the world. We were now the walking wounded. Limping begrudgingly into middle age. All wondering when the hell that happened? Just trying to hold on. Hold onto memories, hold onto each other, hold onto anything really. It’s like trying to grab a handful of cigarette smoke as it hangs in the air. Totally useless!

The day of the funeral mass we all gather outside Immaculate Heart of Mary church all the fellas huddled together and I’m having a smoke trying to calm my nerves preparing to help carry that box and it’s most precious cargo into that church. The mass was nice enough in a heartbreaking is this real? Sort of way. Then we carry our sweet, beautiful Brendan back outside and down the steps. The whole time i’m sweating and my hands are shaking because the casket was heavy. I kept telling myself don’t drop him! Even though I know he would have laughed if I did. Down the steps and into a herce. I patted the top of the couffin and gave it a kiss. We all stood around in a haze of stunned silence. What to do now. Off to the bar across the street for a traditional Irish Wake! That we surely know how to do.

If you don’t know what an Irish Wake is I’ll tell you… You stand around a bar tell stories, drink, laugh, drink, cry, drink and repeat. So that’s what we did. First at Hamilton’s then at Farrell’s where we also smoked cigars and stayed late into the evening getting piss eyed, sloppy and sentimental. As we slowly staggered out almost not wanting to leave each other for fear that when this day ended so would a lot of other things we all promised ourselves and Brendan that we would be better about checking in and staying close. I’m happy to say that for the most part we’ve done that and also see and keep in touch with his wife and daughter too. You can’t always count on “next time” and you can’t always be too busy. What if you don’t get a “next time”? If you’re thinking about someone pick up the phone. Make the time. If you have plans with friends for coffee, lunch, drinks whatever it is put your phone away forget about social media for an hour and engage and enjoy. I try to remember that when me and the fellas can get together.

A few months after his passing we held a softball game memorial fundraiser for his wife and daughter. It was a great day. A lot of laughs and a lot of tears but we raised some money and we all got together and had fun. We made it an annual event. We had the second game two months ago. Hard to believe it’s been almost two years since he left us. I think of Brendan often. Sometimes I cry and every once in awhile I have the urge to call him. Of course I can’t mostly I remember him with a smile or a laugh. I know how lucky I am to have had a friend like him and all the rest of the people I grew up with. I just hope that I’ve shown enough love and kindness and that I can then show even more. In the end that’s what matters.


Submitted: August 25, 2017

© Copyright 2023 John Nash. All rights reserved.

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Beautiful may I recommend my first stories the mountain woman and the ears

Fri, January 20th, 2023 8:56pm

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