The hardest part of growing older is seeing friends pass. Mike Nix is gone, and when Annie comes to our party, she is heartbroken.
“I keep hearing his voice,” she says. “And then I turn around, and he’s not there.”
Bobobo is crying in the other room. “I’ll be right back, Annie,” I say.
“That’s OK, Mrs. Tea,” says Chet. “I’ll get him. You can stay and talk with your friend.”
Chet’s a good kid.
When I turn back to Annie, I see a golden light around Frank, and he’s rising off the floor.
I’ve seen this too many times not to know what is happening.
Frank smiles as if he hasn’t a care in the world, which he doesn’t anymore.
Which he doesn’t.
But I do. It hits me. He’s leaving.
This one hits hard. Frank!
I lose track of everything around me. My own heart feels like it’s being pulled out of my chest. Frank!
The party goes on without me.
I head out to the garden.
Frank has been my best friend since that night we played music together in the meadow. Somehow, he’s always understood that I’d pledged my love to Dante, but Frank stayed anyway. He knew I needed a living friend, too, and he was there, my support. He kept asking me out, writing me love letters, but he never stopped being my friend when I ignored the letters and declined the dates.
He stayed my best friend.
It’s rare to have a friend who’s there for you, and rarer still to have one who stays, no matter what, no questions asked, no strings attached, just love.
I’ve had so many loves in my life and one eternal heart-throb, and of all those, the truest friend has been Frank. I miss him more than I’ve ever missed anyone.