One of the tough parts of blogging is always having to come up with something to say to the digital world no matter what mood I am in, no matter what is going on in my life. My summer has really sucked, and I’m not feeling overly inspirational or informative at the moment. And the person I relied on most to remind me who I am is gone.
Some readers may know that I’ve been stuck in an elongated state of grief since my best friend, Cobby, died three years ago. As I am struggling with my current life circumstances without him, I want to reach out to readers who might know what that feels like. I’ve been blessed many times over with all the wonderful people in my life, but I was especially blessed to have encountered Cobby. We met as total strangers when I was sixteen.
When we said our final good-byes 29 years later, life without him was the total stranger.
By the time he died our friendship had grown to a point where we talked on the phone at least once day, even if only for a moment; and our routine visits and running gags were as basic and as essential to me as running water. Or air … we loved to laugh so much it was like breathing. Looking back, I’ve come to realize I have no clue who I’d be were it not for his influence.
I mean, let’s face it — agree with me or disagree with me, it’s obvious from my writing, I can be a bit headstrong. Some might say difficult. Some even say I’m a bitch; but when they do, I say thank you, which was the kind of thing that used to make Cobby laugh.
Meeting someone who seemed to appreciate me unconditionally at such a young age provided me with a safe outlet for all my headstrong-ness. Scarily, while Cobby appreciated all the facets of my personality, he liked my headstrong-ness best, much to the dismay of other people in my life who sometimes wished I could tamp that side of me down. Cobby cheered it on.
He loved it when my headstrong embers kicked up into full flames, even when I was disagreeing with him.
Of course, after 20 years in the Navy and multiple tours in Korea and Vietnam, it was hard to rattle Cobby’s cage. It was also hard to shock him or otherwise knock him off his even keel. I could say or do ANYTHING, and I knew nothing about our friendship would change.
What a precious luxury.
I was talking to my adult son on the phone today, telling him about something that had happened this week. I said I wondered what Cobby would say, but then again after all our years as friends, I had a pretty good idea what he’d say. I could almost hear the lecture with the familiar themes. He was that good a friend.
I know I am not alone in my lingering grief. Like there’s a gentleman who visits the cemetery where Cobby’s ashes are. This gentleman’s been visiting every day — rain, snow or shine — since his wife died two years ago. We’ve swapped stories about our grief a couple times (no, I don’t go every day), and this gentleman’s eyes still sparkle with the love he feels for wife, especially when they well up with tears.
I like hearing about their long marriage and how they met. I wish I had thought to ask permission to tell his story because I’d love to include it and their names in a post — a tribute to their love. It’s a story that deserves a little digital immortality.
Which brings me back to reaching out to readers who know the kind of grief I am talking about. The kind of grief that leaves you feeling like you’re constantly working around a giant hole that suddenly appeared in your life. A hole that’s there when things are going well and you can’t wait to tell someone.
A hole that’s there when things are a mess and you need someone to help you sort it out. A hole that gets its biggest when you life has you feeling small.
I’m not so great at the interactivity part of blogging, but I’m hoping at least a couple readers will share about your losses in the comment section and in doing so, offer a little digital immortality to the people you are missing. Then I and anyone else who may read the comments can honor that special someone along with you.
Sylvester E. Cobbs 5/4/1930 – 6/10/13. Proud Navy man, father, photographer, teacher, husband of Mary who has recently joined him, and dear friend to many, including me. He was rock solid in who he was and had a deliciously twisted sense of humor that never failed to get a laugh out of me. And he had a sense of loyalty that never let me down. I miss you, old man.