On my very first trip to Europe, in 1988, I made a new friend, A. He was wearing leather bike gear, with a scruffy face and charming English accent. The attraction was immediate. We made a connection that led to numerous transatlantic flights and were lucky enough to explore a few amazing cities together. It’s a time in my life that I recall warmly.
The last time I saw my friend, A, was almost 25 years ago, in London. He helped sort out accommodations for my brother and me and we got to spend an afternoon or two together, along with his towheaded two year-old son. He was married then and seemed contented. Again, happy memories of a lifetime ago.
We maintained a correspondence, old school, with paper, envelopes and stamps, for quite a few years after that last in person visit. Although the details are hazy after so many years, I recall receiving a letter telling me he was sick, maybe a brain tumor and the prognosis was dire. It was goodbye.
Life was wild with young children and new careers, and I accepted the news with sad resignation, too busy to immediately follow-up. Of course, I’ve wondered over the years about him, and his family, and have taken half-hearted stabs at trying to locate him in the digital age. I looked for an obituary online but never found a word about them. Until last week.
After happening upon a memento from a trip I had once taken with my departed friend, I impulsively searched Facebook for his name and came up empty. I changed my search to the name of A’s son. Immediately, a photo appeared – A’s face, but a version far younger than I ever had known A to be. His son.
I clicked on the link and found the obituary, not of A, but his son. Oh, no. The tow -headed boy had grown into a too young to die young man. Almost 7 years ago A’s son had died while serving in Afghanistan. There were photos of the funeral and I saw an older than I had ever imagined A. I struggled with sadness and relief.
Sometimes the real heartbreak comes long after the breakup.