I just found out a friend I've known since I was 12 years old has had 2 heart attacks since April. He is only 3 years older than me. He used to be in the Army, is currently in the Coast Guard and is in excellent health, well except for the 2 heart attacks. Wow. This is information that makes you stop and think. I am in shock and have been since receiving his email earlier today. As a matter of fact, I didn't even believe it at first. You see Todd used to tell me long stories that would have me just amazed...and then he'd laugh and tell me I was just so gullible. He did this several times. Yes, I fell for them every single time. I hoped this was another, not so very funny attempt to see if I was still as gullible.
Todd and I have been friends since I moved to a new neighborhood days before I started the 6th grade. I didn't know anyone and remember the first time he knocked on my front door. We hung out all summer long that following year and just had the best time. As I look back on summer vacations, it is one that always stands out in my mind as one of the most enjoyable. It was during a time when we'd pretty much leave our houses in the morning and not return until the street lights came on that night. We rode bikes, played games, went to the movies and just did what kids used to do. I even went to a barbeque with him one time and ended up riding back home with his Dad. In the back of his Highway Patrol car. Very uncomfortable. No, I wasn't in trouble, it was just my ride home. Seriously. I had my first taste of alcohol with Todd, made 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies, played basketball, snuck into movies and listened to music. Music that to this day takes me back to that Summer anytime I hear it.
Todd moved away before school started the next year. I was crushed. I just knew life would never be the same. Luckily and much to my surprise we managed to keep in touch off and on through all these years. He would occasionally call from his new home town, and even visited every now and then. Ok, so he was probably visiting his Dad that lived down the street, but luckily I would get to see him, too. He eventually went into the Army and actually called me from the Panama Canal at one point. It's funny I can look back several times and it seems he would pop up or call at times in my life when I really needed a friend. It always reminded me of the song "Angels Among Us" the line, "there are angels among us, sent down to us from somewhere up above. They come to you and me in our darkest hour..." it seemed this is how our friendship played out, for a time.
I have since kept up with Todd via MySpace or Facebook and now pretty much via email. He pops into my head from time to time and I'll send him an email, we'll catch up and then go about our daily lives. He sent me a great email today, in it he said, "say hello to your family for me and tell them I will meet them, one day" and, you know what, I have no doubt he will.
Oh, and quite unfortunately his heart attacks were very much real. It wasn't an attempt to see if I was still gullible, although I really wish it were.