Friday, April 08, 2005

Goodbye, John Ronin

I was going through some of my old stuff today, and came on this. I wrote it in October of 2003 when a very good friend of mine died. I wanted, needed, to talk about the feelings and memories I had, some lessons I needed to learn, and to share those with others. I decided to post this in my journal, because the lesson is still a good one. And my friend John Ronin is worth remembering over and over again.

My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.
-- Richard Adams, Watership Down

Some years ago the man who was my husband had a tragedy occur. His brother, David, died unexpectedly. My husband was devastated, because he had not had the opportunity to say goodbye. He felt that he’d left things unsaid, loose ends that he couldn’t take care of. His heartbreak taught me a lesson.
My sister and I hadn’t spoken much in the years the previous few years before my brother-in-laws death. We’d had an argument, and we were both still too hot to let it go, or too self absorbed to be the one to let it go first. A couple of days after the passing of David I called my sister and told her I loved her. It was a nice phone call. And it wasn’t the last I made. Realization of life’s fragile promise encouraged me to call her frequently, and to forge a new friendship I hadn’t had with her before. We are best friends today. As a matter of fact, I called almost everyone I had lost touch with in my family, and attempted to reach old friends as well. Things have been better in my relationships since then.
I had learned my lesson and that lesson has been one I have kept close in the last six years. But I guess I hadn’t learned it well enough.
Last week a friend of mine was struck by a car and killed. His name was John, and he was as nice of a guy as anyone could ever know. I have had a lot on my mind recently, so the last month or so when I saw John I chatted with him, but was always in a great hurry. You see, John liked to talk a lot, and it was hard to escape once he started gabbing. I always figured I’d make time for him later, when things were smoother in my life. But we can see how that worked out. John left some words for mewith a friend, the week before he died. I was sick so he couldn’t get in to see me. He was grateful, he said. I had done a lot for him.
I wish I had let John know how lucky I was to know him. John was quiet, and yet he could talk your head off. He was sweet, funny, and liked to smile. He had new teeth and was so proud of them. (Everyone should have had the pleasure of seeing John smile.) He took his work very seriously, and had pride in what he did. He liked to help other people, and he always worried about his friends. He was honest, determined, and had a lot of trust in those around him. He didn’t know anyone that held a grudge with him, everyone liked him, and he made people smile. I’ll miss him.
A lot of people will miss him.
Unfortunately the lesson I thought I had learned with David slipped when it became important. But isn’t that how it always is?
I urge you, if you have a friend or family member that you have something to say to – say it now. Don’t leave anything unfinished. It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again. Regrets are bitter candy to carry with you.
Goodbye John. I am glad I knew you.
Accept the pain, cherish the joys, resolve the regrets; then can come the best of benedictions - 'If I had my life to live over, I'd do it all the same'. --Joan McIntosh
Don't be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends. --Richard Bach

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