Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Just Found Out

I just found out that a person, who at one time, was my best friend, died.

He actually died about 6 months ago but we had lost contact quite some time ago and I knew he had moved, but did not know his health was failing.

I met Rick in the spring of 1994, I’m trying to remember how we first met, it may have been at a bar, it may have been through a mutual friend, I can’t recall. But I do know that we became fast friends, especially after we found out that our birthdays were on the same day (not the same year though).

Rick and I were great friends, we enjoyed hanging out, we had a lot in common (both being Aquarians), we had a “standing breakfast” appointment on Saturday morning at 7:00 am! Yes 7:00 am on a Saturday, we were both the only other person we knew who would be up at that time on a Saturday so we always went to breakfast together.

It eventually came around that we would be roommates. The guy that I was sharing my apartment with was moving out on his own (that’s a whole other story – a good story) and Rick’s lease was up…so we decided to live together, as friends.

That was the beginning of the downfall. It’s funny that when you’re friends with someone and then decide to live together how they have all of these strange and unusual habits you never knew about. Rick had a very good job, he was the Creative Director for a weekly paper, but he liked to drink….a lot….and not the good stuff either.

It was not uncommon for me to come home from work at 6:00 and to have him sitting in the living room drunk on cheap vodka. Other than the drinking he was a good person, he kept a clean house, he didn’t bring “trash” tricks home, but he did have one big problem, he was hiv positive (sorry I don’t capitalize that word), and I think that was why he drank so much.

He eventually moved out and bought a house, the story about how he got the down payment is a good one. He had some bills that were due, like all of us, and they were passed onto a collection agency. They called him one day, well every day, one time he told them, “You know, I’m hiv positive and you’re stressing me out. My doctor said I shouldn’t be stressed, don’t call me anymore.”

About 3 months later he gets a letter in the mail from this company and on the address label it has his name, the second line says “customer is an aids victim” and then the address.

He got himself a lawyer and sued the pants off of that collection agency, they did an article in the newspaper about him, and he was even in the news (but as a shadow to protect his privacy). He got about $50,000 from them….so he bought a house and moved out.

After he moved out, we didn’t see each other much. I was just starting a relationship with someone and he was doing the same. We would chat every week or so, but we didn’t see each other that much.

I ended up moving to the suburbs (about a 45 minute drive from where he lived on the other side of the city) and that sort of sealed our fate as friends.

I knew that he had been planning to move to North Carolina to be close to his family (his mother was getting older) but I never did see him off, he just up and sold his house and moved all within a period of a month.

Then one Saturday about 3 years later, I went to our regular place to have breakfast, and who was there but Rick at 7:00 am! I guess old habits die-hard huh?

We had a great breakfast together; he was back in town for a festival because he wanted to buy some pottery (he collected it) and was planning on going home that evening.

That was the last time I talked to him. About a year or so later I moved to Chicago and essentially lost contact with most of the people I thought were my “friends” but who turned out to be otherwise, and I lost contact with Rick.

I was just talking with one of my few remaining friends in Atlanta and he told me “Did you know that Rick died?” Apparently he had a friend that worked at the same place Rick did and they started talking about people they knew in common.

Apparently Rick had finally succumbed to hiv and passed away….I’m sorry that I never got to say goodbye.

Goodbye my friend, I know you’re in a better place. You will always be young, healthy and handsome in my mind.


captain_howdy_girl said...

I'm sorry to hear about your bud. It's great that he sued those bastards.
Hey, those people born on Feb 6th are great aren't they? :)

Kat said...

How sad. Isn't it weird how you can be so close to someone, then just grow apart?