It's funny, isn't it, the lasting impact a person can have on one's life?
I don't have any childhood friends. I had friends as a child, though few, but none of them made it to this point in my life. A lot of moving about will do that.
I keep loosely in touch with some people from my boarding school days...and I thought of them as friends then, but as some sort of curious, limbo relationship now. I believe that if any of them should tell me they need me to come and help them, I would.
I have no contact with anyone from high school. Again, I had a few friends, but our lives took us in vastly different directions, and whatever we had then, it was not strong or elastic enough to get to now.
College? Best let that go.
A short time after college, I met Patrick. Patrick and his lover Fred were the first gay men I ever knew as gay, open, living their lives together. I adored them. Once, Fred made me breakfast on my birthday. He was a marvelous cook, was Fred. About a week later, he died.
We combined his ashes with an ex-lovers's and scattered him somewhere I won't name for legal reasons.
Through Patrick, I met Bear. His name wasn't Bear, but that's what I called him almost from the start. We played ExCom, UFO Defense until all hours, sometimes all night and into the day. His boyfriend didn't appreciate it. Neither did Mum, with whom I lived at the time. We soaked in the hot tub and laughed like loons together. We played D&D. Mum tolerated it better than the lover did.
When I moved out of Mum's house, it was into an apartment with Bear and his lover M (who, it turns out, really didn't like the idea but had no say because he didn't pay the bills)(and resented me deeply). We would often go not-so-skinny dipping in the complex's pool. When I moved out from that apartment and into my own place, it was within walking distance, and Bear and I spent many days and nights together, friends always. Through Bear I met JS, Otter, and K2, as well as Joelicious. When I hurt my back and couldn't move my legs, it was Bear and Joelicious who picked me up, straightened me out, folded me into a vehicle and drove me to the hospital.
These became my net, my web, my Tribe. Because of them I met PJ, Butterfly (who died on my birthday, drifting from this world on the notes of the songs we sang him), Straws, Sexy E, and a host of others.
We made music together. When some of us wanted to get more serious, we split our band in two. They kept the name, we kept the original music (mostly because I wrote it and wasn't going to give up my right to sing what I wrote). In many ways, it was a bitter parting. Bear had hard words over it, and we drifted apart for a time.
Not long ago, we struck up a sporadic thread of a conversation...an e-mail here and there, a friend request on Facebook.
I kept track of him through others, always hoping he was happy, had a loving partner (he was not an easy Bear to live with, and good partners are thin on the ground, you know).
I had hopes that we would reconnect, silly old Bear and I, that he would meet my children and, rightly, adore them...and that they would climb him (he was quite large) and hug him and tease him, pull his beard, love him as Mama's friends are loved.
He died today. On April 7, Shayne Michael Patrick, silly old Bear, the one person with whom I could do tandem Tarot/Rune readings, the man I once told I would carry a baby for as soon as he could keep a houseplant alive for more than a year, the man who helped transform me from the scared, scarred, introvert in the corner to the woman on the stage, the man with the sometimes gross, often earthy, usually loud sense of humor stepped through the veil and left a large, empty place in this world that will not soon be filled.
I will be looking for you to return, Bear...a spirit so large, loud, and hilarious can't possibly linger long on the other side. I'll be waiting...