As I sit here writing this letter to you, I've just found out that my uncle died from a massive stroke. He was 76 years old. We weren't particularly close and I rarely saw him so I'm not debilitated by grief or sorrow. Instead, I'm just thinking about you. All that's spinning through my head is how unfair life is. How is it that my uncle lived a relatively long life while yours was cut short at the age of 30? In some ways, it ended before it could really begin. Is there anything more tragic in life?
Today marks the 15th anniversary of your passing.
We met when you were 15. We were friends for 15 years. And now, it's been 15 years without you.
In my memories of you, you're still a beautiful, generous, amazingly warm-hearted 30-year old. Meanwhile, I'm 48 with a wife, three kids, a mortgage, and a receding hairline. In a way, my memories of you are the memories of my youth. I miss many things about my youth but none more than having you as a friend.
I miss you, Andy.
I still think of you often. Just not as much as I used to. And that not only scares me but also makes me feel both sad and guilty. Whoever said that loss gets easier with time was a liar. Here's what really happens: The spaces between the times you miss them grow longer. Then, when you do remember to miss them again, it's still with a stabbing pain to the heart. And you have guilt. Guilt because it's been too long since you missed them last. The admixture of guilt and sorrow is a heavy cross to bear.
I used to think about you every single day, Andy. Everything I experienced reminded me of you. I'd walk into work and miss your morning calls. I'd be in Central Park and could only think about days spent tossing around a football before watching the Giants game together. I'd go to the beach and think about all the long walks we took together, talking about life and laughing at the absurdities of it all. I'd sneak out of a party without saying goodbye to anyone and think about whenever we went out, you'd see me leaving and make sure to give me a hug and say, "I love you, brother. Talk to you tomorrow."
EVERYTHING reminded me of you.
Now, I feel like I'm remembering the spirit of you more than the actual you. I have mixed emotions about that. I guess the confusing mixture of pain, sorrow, and guilt I feel is the price I pay for having had you in my life.
And make no mistake, Andy. I'll gladly pay that price.
I know that, more than anything, I'll never completely get over losing you as a friend. You'll always live forever in my heart and soul. And despite the fact that I may not think of you as much as I once did, your presence in my life is like a limb that breaks but never heals perfectly. It sill hurts when you focus on the pain, but you learn to dance with the limp.
And nobody loved dancing more than you, my friend.
I miss and love you, Andy. I really do. And I always will. Now, forever, and always. I promise.
All the best,
Your friend Pierre
Andrew Golkin, 1970-2001