Text messages from the grave

My very good friend and co-worker, Boomer, passed away in hospital one Monday afternoon three months ago. After complaining of breathing problems, he was admitted into hospital Saturday night, diagnosed with blood clots in his leg. By Monday evening, sometime during the Bruins v Maple Leafs hockey match, he passed away.

His death has left such a void in my life.  We never spent time together outside of work, other than going to lunch when my schedule allowed, but we spoke every workday throughout the day. He was my go-to person for just about everything. He was known as the office foodie. He was vegetarian, but he could still tell you where you could find the best foods for your palate. He was also my constant resource for anything to do with history, religion, the arts, music, movies, shopping, and just about any obscure, remote factoids. He was the first and only Jewish atheist that I knew.

We would normally spend the weekends texting each other about any of the English Premier League teams, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, office politics, and life in general. I normally keep every one of my text messages. I still read these every now and then when I feel particularly sad.

On April 17, he texted me that he had a lunch meeting in Boston and was “not too psyched to get on the T” (the subway train system in Boston). This was 2 days after the bombing at the Boston marathon.

I had replied, “I think you’ll be fine on the T. But good luck anyway!”

His response: “Jah protect I &I” – which in plain English means “God, protect me.” He often spoke “Jamaican” with me. Less than one month later, he would pass away from natural causes.

On the morning of February 11, after a wild snowstorm the night before, we exchanged texts about an HBO special that was on the night before. He then commented that he was working from home that day.

“Can’t get out?” I asked.

His reply: “Well, they did plow this morning but I need to have car serviced so I dropped it off….Don’t tell anyone. I told them the (snow) plows haven’t come yet.”

We mostly exchanged text messages while watching HBO’s “Game of Thrones” on Sunday nights. The week before he died, the episode called “The Climb” was aired. Boomer had read all the books but he never gave away the plot unless I asked. During this episode, I texted: “Edge of my seat!!!!!”

He: “I know!”

Me: “Whew! I feel like I just climbed that wall too! And Joffrey really is a little s##t.”

He: “Yes he is. Can’t wait for next week!”

But for us, “next week” never came.

Watching subsequent episodes for the rest of the season had been exceptionally painful for me, to the extent that at one point I had to get up from the living room because I’d started crying, as I am now. These episodes were also perhaps the most dramatic of the season. I made to pick up my phone several times to send a text but it would then dawn on me that he was no longer around to receive them.

Our last texts to each other was that Saturday afternoon prior to him entering the hospital, about the massive loss my favorite football (soccer) team suffered on that day to a team at the bottom of the league.”What a game, for me at least,” was his penultimate text to me.

I replied, “Ugh. I’m so irritated!” It was to be my final response to him.

He replied, “I’m sure,” then went on to make a comment about one of the players.

That was 3:41 pm, some hours before he entered the hospital.

It’s dreadful to think that we’ll never exchange ideas ever again. A new Premier League season starts this Saturday and sadly we won’t do that Monday morning recap at my desk as we used to.

I don’t make very many friends and the ones I do I keep very close to my heart. The departure of this one has certainly left me heartbroken. All I really have left of him now are our text messages.

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6 replies

  1. I am so sorry that you lost a good friend in Boomer. He and you passed many hours together in sharing shows, thoughts and now, he is no longer with you. It would be hard to keep on watching the shows after he is gone, but glad you do anyway. He would want you to. Probably knows you are thinking of him, too. I have to believe that…also to reread those texts can give you comfort.

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  2. I’m so sorry about the loss of such a close friend. I wish I had the words that might make you feel better.
    Losing anyone that was so involved in your daily life, in person or electronically is tough.
    In 2007, when I went back to school (online), I became very close to my advisor. I never met him in person but we talked on the phone everyday while he was at work and I was at home. The first time he called to check in with me, I guess I sounded really depressed and lonely, that he took pity on me (my take). He called everyday (probably trying to keep me off the ledge) and our student-advisor relationship grew into a friendship. We talked about our troubles, kids, movies, our courses, he was in a doctoral program and I was undergrad. After months of every weekday conversations, his calls abruptly stopped, I couldn’t get him in the phone, and he wouldn’t return my calls. After about a week of this, I was able to get someone to talk to me and found out that he suffered a massive heart attack and died.
    I cried.
    I cried for a man I had never laid eyes on, but had built a friendship telephonically. I continued to call his extension, to hear his voice until someone changed it.
    Since then, I have learned and accepted that these types of people come into our lives for a reason and though we lose them too soon, we should carry their memory with us on our journey through this life that we live.
    People say life’s short so make the best of it, but many of us don’t really internalize that message. Life IS short. Do the things that bring joy and don’t waste too much time on misery.
    Keep those messages from your dear friend and talk to him still— in the car when you’re alone and imagine what he might say.

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    • Thanks for reading my post. I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend! It must have been awful not knowing what happened. It’s good that you actually took the time to find out, otherwise you might have written him off when he never returned your calls. Yes, some people do come into to our lives for a reason and it might even be coworker, phone buddy, or a great sister-in-law. Wish you all the best.

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