Last week my best friend died. I have known Roger for over 50 years. Starting in college, later in various states and positions we reconnected. For several years we worked together in Iowa and in California at the same university. Our children were of the same ages, so Sabbath afternoons we were often together at either of our homes. About 20 years ago, turmoil affected both our families and we did not see each other like in the past. Five years later I received a call after Roger found my name on the Internet. After that we reestablished our contact and over the last 25 years we cemented our friendship. Our wives also became friends. Several times a year, we visited each other’s homes. Frequent phone calls filled the spaces in between.
When we were together, we would share stories from our past. As years went by, these stories were repeated and enjoyed as much as the first time. Visits at my house showed two old men sitting in recliners overlooking the valley, talking, reading and napping. The wives would watch us and laugh.
So well we did get along and so similar were our ways, we told people we were identical twins separated at birth. He said that his parents did not feed him, and that mine did. Or once he said that I was 42 long and he was 42 short.
Old people can’t easily make good friends, and making a best friend late in life, in my opinion, is not possible. It takes years to really get to know someone, to be safe in sharing thoughts, ideas and secrets. When you are old, there is not enough time to build that kind of trust.
About 4 years ago, I got a call where Roger told me that a news story said that there would be men on Mars in the next decade or so. He said we should try to live long enough to see that come to be. I agreed. A few days later he sent me a package that contained six Mars candy bars. I have eaten all but one. The last I was saving so that both of us would could eat it together. Alas, that will not happen, but I will keep it as a reminder of him. When we meet again on the other side, we will visit Mars together, and then explore the universe for a million years. BFF.