I used to have a friend named Mike. Mike towered over many of us with his giant bald head, brilliant smile and congenial manner. He was a real sweet potato.
We were the 90s; playing in bands, being in the scene, putting regretful tattoos on our bodies, blazing trails and taking numbers. Mike played in a band called Oxboard Drain with some of his closest friends. They were metally, hard core fun.
We were all young, we all needed the money, but none of us had started to care quite yet. We were tripping on youth, rebellion and freedom from responsibilities (other than the $350 in rent we scrounged up monthly from wait service jobs).
Time marched on and little by little, we all started to grow up and out of touch. Degrees, jobs, babies, marriages, mortgages, lawyers, guns and money. I would run into Mike from time to time, bask in his fantastic bear hugs, then saunter on back to my life in my world, on the other side of town. Taking life for granted, the ironic juxtaposition of existence, thinking I would see him again real soon.
Sunday morning, Mike finished up his bar-tending shift, went home, and went to bed.
He would never wake up again.
Iron Mike was a son, brother, husband, father and friend. He was a really special person and last night I had to say goodbye to him without his signature, affectionate embrace. I looked around and saw how his absence was affecting the people that had come out in droves to say goodbye. We were all waiting for a bear hug we would never get again. We all cried.