This was written on Tuesday afternoon, August 30th, 2011. I sometimes write just to write, just for myself. After a few days of thinking about Larry I decided to share what I knew of him and how he touched my life.
I’m sitting in my living room having just gotten off the phone with my father. The sun is slowly setting outside and my darkening living room feels like the perfect place to just sit for a moment. He called to deliver some sad news. His best friend, Larry, just died a few hours ago.
My dad described his emotions like this, “I’m smiling through tears”. You see, Larry had a long battle with ALS (Lou Gherig’s Disease) so death was a relief for him. ALS is a terrible sickness for which there is no cure. Sufferers have to just wait it out as their bodies slowly deteriorate.
Every time I spoke to my dad about Larry over the last three years he would tell me that his physical condition was worsening but that his sense of humor was still well in tact. That is the thing I remember the most about Larry.
I’ve said before that my dad can make me laugh almost without trying. Larry was the same. The last time I saw Larry was several years ago. My husband and I went out to dinner with my dad and Larry. The evening was full of silly stories and riotous laughter.
Larry and I exchanged just one set of emails over the last few years. He wasn’t able to use his arms anymore and was using a program where he could dictate an email. It wasn’t any easy program to use so it took him a while to respond to my initial email. One of the things he said that stood out to me was, “The two things in my life that I will never lose are my faith and my sense of humor.” In these emails he and I even recounted a few funny stories with each other. He was at a point in his life where anyone would agree he had every right and reason to be self-absorbed and angry. He told me that he went through a period of anger and asking “why me?” and then changed his attitude to, “Why not me? What makes me so special that I should be sheltered from this?” He opened up to me in a small way, and encouraged me just a few months after I lost my husband. He was going through his own major trial, but he took the time to let me know he was praying for me and engage in conversation. A simple task like sending an email was a big production for him, but he did it anyway.
Larry and Michael (my dad) were friends since kindergarten. Best friends. Their friendship never took a hiatus. I’ve heard stories about Larry and my parents for my entire life. Larry didn’t always live near us so he wasn’t physically a regular fixture in my life, but I always knew he was around and his visits were always fun.
Their friendship was something I admired, actually I still admire. Kindergarten. How many people did you meet in kindergarten that you are still friends with? That you even know anything about now? I am 28-years-old and I can’t even count the number of people who have come in and out of my life since I was 5. They stayed best friends until the very end. 51 years. To me that is impressive. It illustrates the type of bond these two men had.
I’ll be smiling through tears as I remember Larry and as I think about my father. Larry is better off now that he doesn’t have his physical body to deal with, but he will be truly missed by those that knew him.
This is not a sob story to elicit financial support in any way, but please, if you would, take a moment to learn a little more about ALS and how you can help find a cure. I think its a battle worth fighting. http://www.alsa.org/