So far 2011 hasn't really made many friends with me. I thought that I broke my toe. After weeks of pain killers and walking around with two of them tied together, I'm noticing that it is not my toe that hurts. Actually, it's the spot where I originally broke my foot in college. So that's awesome. Tricky thing about pain killers, they may mask pain and help you feel better, but they may also mask the actual problem, which must eventually be dealt with.
With that in mind, I wish someone could come up with an emotional or heart based pain killer. Those are the pains that dig the deepest and linger the longest. But as experience and wisdom will always show, some pain shouldn't be masked, but rather should be felt, experienced and worked through.
The pain of my broken toe pales in comparison to news that one of my good friends from high school passed away in his sleep Sunday night. He was 32 and has twin boys that are just barely a year old. I have known and loved Todd since we were kids. Unfortunately, most of our contact of late has come simply by bumping into each other at church every now and then, or passing stories back and forth between friends that see him more frequently than I. We obviously lost touch once he got married and started having kids. I was single, traveling and doing other things. We were at different points in our lives. I guess that sort of thing just happens. But this totally has come as a slap in the face. Huge reminder not to let friendships and relationships slip thru the cracks just because we get tied up in the minutiae of our own lives.
For some reason, I can't shake this off, or even begin to wrap my mind around it. At this point, I'm not really sure I want to just yet. As the mormon grapevine swoops into full swing, there are all sorts of "What if's" and "How's" and "Why's" being whispered in hushed tones, like there is supposed to be some intriguing and tabliod-esque answer to feed peoples desire for salacious details. But those details, in my opinion, are none of our business. Better left as questions. That is between Todd, his wife and the Lord.
At then end of the day, I go to bed thinking that Todd was a good man, who sometimes stumbled, but tried his best. Heck, sometimes he tried so hard to help those on his mission hat he wound up getting him and his companion blown off of a rooftop in Mexico by what they thought was a dead power line! (One of their contacts or friends got a pair of shoes stuck on the power line, if I remember correctly) He even had the hand print burn and the hole in the bottom of his foot to prove it. He loved his family and left everyone feeling better than they did before they met him. I can picture the 14 year old Todd, who would put hand lotion in his hair instead of gel, "Because it even makes your hair softer, see?" just as well as I can the 30 year old Todd, looking exactly the way you would expect the parent of newborn twins to look. Though time had taken it's toll, there was a part of him that would never, could never change. He would know I was upset about something, cock his head to the side and put that smirk on his face, stick his arms out and wave me into some of the best hugs I can remember. Sometimes to remind me that the guy I was dating (or getting dumped by) was a loser, sometimes just because I looked frantic and upset (which is sadly, more often than you would think). Sometimes he would hug me because I hadn't seen him in a while, and the hug smeared out all of the space that had passed since last we talked, and sometimes..... he'd hug me just because. No reason. And it was fool proof. I don't know if I ever told him that, but I always felt happier, more loved, and more cared about after a Todd hug.
I moved into his parents ward last month. I saw ma and pa Houser sitting up toward the front of the chapel, and thought, "I should call Todd and see how he is holding up with the twins." Leave it to me to ignore promptings of the spirit.....and now I'll never get the chance to tell him what a great influence he was in my life. And what a great friend he was. Pretty sure I will kick myself for a while for that move.
I just hope that one of Todd's buddies or brothers will take up the mantle and make sure the boys know all of the schenanigans their dad got himself tied up in. Like taking a group date to an abandoned mine where they staged his death by falling down a shaft, impaling a metal bar through his shirt, complete with fake blood and everything....just to freak the girls out. (which, by all accounts worked like gang busters.) The camping trips that we went on where his ONLY job was to bring chili and can opener, only to show up with about 15, one gallon cans of chili (for 5 people) but not a single can opener. "Relax, we'll just find a sharp stick or rock." I'm actually shocked that we all didn't get tetanus right there and then. If I had a nickel every time I heard that phrase, "Relax, we'll just..." I'd have a crap load of nickels. To this day, that phrase speaks fear and trepidation to my soul. Even more so if it is said whilst in the wilderness during the time period just before cell phones that could be used to call for rescue. And, someone's definitely going to have to teach his children the art of pulling off a perfect toilet papering....which of course includes MUCH more than toilet paper, a-la street signs, flashing cones, for sale signs, crime scene tape and liquid soap.
But above all, I hope that those little boys have in them that special part of Todd that makes everyone they encounter feel a little more loved, a little more cared for and just plain happier than they were before they met. Because if there is any silver lining to be found in such a sad situation, that's got to be it.