There Is No Title For This

I'm in a rather melancholy, introspective mood, be warned from the start.  I got one of those phone calls on Sunday, you know, where someone has to tell you that a friend you'd always expect to be there....isn't anymore.  Poof just like that.  No warning.  Just gone.  These things always make me become so reflective.  On life and death and the grand questions of what it all means, this life, and what is the truth of what we become.  And more intimate matters of my heart like the quality of friend that I am and how to decide priorities and know what to do...there are so many paths, so many opportunities, so many does one decide and know that that particular path was the best way to spend that precious time we've been given.  Is it possible to never have regrets, unanswered questions, things left unsaid or done?  I'm rambling, I realize.  I don't expect any answer.
Josh, on a Saturday drive.
I am just terribly sad and want to work things out, get it off my mind maybe, by putting it down somewhere else.
Josh and my sister, Lisa.
Sunday when I got the news I was just too shocked.  It didn't sink in, really.  But, progressively, as my mind works it over...  When did I see him last and what did we do?  Kicking myself for not getting his address sooner so that he could be on my list of people-who-get-postcards--I'd made a mental note to ask him for it while I was on vacation last week, but now realize that I thought of it too late.  I've been remembering this and that, like how he gave me my very first bird feeder and thus started me off on the hobby of which I now cannot imagine life without.  Or how the only time I ever really played a poker machine was at the Depot so I could hang out with him while he worked.  I hung out at the Depot so much, in fact, because both Alli and Josh worked there.  Playing Take 2 and Photo Hunt, making up fake histories for all the other patrons with my sister, Lisa, eating criss-cut fries and scotcheroos, smoking cigarettes, and laughing...a lot.  Or how trying to go anywhere with him was just impossible because he knew just about everyone and so was constantly getting stopped to chat every few the fair was the total worst, you really couldn't get anywhere!  We even had "Josh Time" which was to account for the fact he was always late because of this popularity problem.  "He said he'd be here in a half hour, but its Josh Time, so...probably an hour."  Or how about that fair where he ate somewhere in the neighborhood of a dozen fresh-dipped corn dogs in one day.  Or how he was the person I called to come pick me up from jail the one time in my life I got arrested (for underage drinking).  He saved my day.  Or how we always teased him about driving his "old lady car," and he would just say that the seats was super comfortable because they were designed for old lady bodies.  Or that Christmas that he gave me a 36 piece floor puzzle of horses which had a recommend age of 3 years and up.  I was sort of like, what the heck Josh, why did you give me a kid's toy?  But he just told me it was because he knew I liked animals so much and he thought I'd like the art.  And you know, it is really pretty art and over the years I have done the puzzle probably a hundred times or more with my niece and nephew.  At one point it was the only kid's toy I had.  So, it came in very handy...even if it seemed an oddball choice at the time.  But, then again, for graduating college he gave me a screwdriver...with a pink flowered handle.  He gave Alli one, too.  I still use it all the time though.  Oddball, and yet right on the money.    How can Josh be dead?  I almost feel like it cannot be.  He was so young.  Just Saturday he was posting about his awesome lunch on Facebook.  It seems wrong.  ....but I know it isn't.
Ethan and Josh on Sundheim Bridge
I work through these memories and thoughts and I am pervaded with a deep sadness.  For Josh and all the good times we had, of which we'll have no more.  But also, in a more generalized way, for the good times I miss having with all of my friends, like Josh, Alli, Val, Meagan, Glenn, Chantz, Cody,  Chris Dietz, Jessica, Shay, Derek, Charlie, Zach, Shelley, Chris, Jimmy, Ethan, and so many others I shouldn't have even started to list them.  We had a wonderful, big crew back home and I am grieving for that part of my life, too, I think.  Its come to my extreme attention how much things have changed since I left.
Lisa and Josh.
I miss my friends and the closeness we had together then.  I've heard it said that high school is the best days of your life.  I don't necessarily agree with that, but, those friends....I think those were the best friends of my life.  I don't seem to make friends quite like that as a grown up.  There isn't the collective history and shared experiences of life from grade school and Sunday school all the way up through our budding adulthood to bind us together.  As children and young people we had no distractions from our play and fun together...except maybe school and a part-time job flipping burgers or something.  (But even when I worked at McDonald's almost all my co-workers were my friends so it was still mostly like hanging out!  And in school I was still with them most of the time, too.)  But, now, there are children to care for, meetings, jobs, higher education, moving across the country, and so many other things that get in the way of making such a deep connection with new people and which make it harder to maintain it with old ones.   I guess it was easy to be closest of friends in school days because that was all we had to do with our time, more or less.
A group shot on the patio at my mom's place in Sidney.  My sister Sarah, Shelly, Rachel, Me, and Josh in the back and Ethan, Val, and our exchange student, Marj in the front.  Oh, and Herbie, the best cocker spaniel I ever knew.
Don't get me wrong.  I've made great and dear friends at college and here in Billings, in general.  I love them and wouldn't trade them for the world.  But, still, its not the same.  Most of my college friends have moved away.  I don't know about them--and they don't know about me--in the way I do about these Sidney folks.  We know each other in the now or in one limited snapshot of time.  But, I think I kind of miss the knowing each other in history, too.  My Billings friends are great fun.  We laugh a lot, too.  We go to concerts and have clothes swaps.  I have them over for dinner or board games.  They have taught me so much.  But, I am not so sure our lives are as deeply intertwined.  And I wish they were.
Me, Josh, and Lisa.
I feel a little hole in my heart for my old friends and the way we used to be together.  And there is not much to do about that.  Life goes on and change is a part of it--good and bad.  It is inevitable, and, really, I am thankful for it or it would be a boring, dreary place otherwise.  We are blessed with endless opportunities to change, grow, learn, and love.  And all that changes everything.  Which is a good thing, I understand on a intellectual level, but, still, I cannot help but feel a little heartbroken.  We're all growing apart, too.  So, Josh is gone and that is final, but is there anything to do about Alli and Val and Derek and Chantz and all those others who are slipping away from me year by year, too?  I just don't know.  Maybe that is just how it goes.  But, I just love them, and the memory of them, so much I don't want to believe it.
Josh and Alli, on one of the support pillars at Sundheim.
So, for now, I will cherish those memories of old and try my best to appreciate and live fully now with all the joys that I have been given for this segment of my life.   There may always be looking back, but there is certainly looking forward, too.


  1. Your reactions are very normal. I am about 40 years older than you and still feel all the same emotions--longing and regret and what I should have done.

    High school is definitely not the best period of life. Okay, unless something drastic happened afterward to ruin the rest of a person's life. But, it is such a linear, peculiar period of familiarity, something hard to duplicate afterward with a new group of people.

    Deaths of friends and family sends me into a funk that comes and goes for months, even years in the case of my mother and brother.

    It's too bad we have to have these bad things happen. I sincerely am sorry for your loss and consequent pain.

  2. So sorry to hear such sad news about your friend
    Bridget x

  3. I'm sorry for your loss Beth.

    High school friends always tug at your heartstrings and losing one is pure anguish. I think it stems from the fact that they were the first people we bond with outside the family at a time it is so crucial to find acceptance and love as we grow into adults.

    On a brighter note, every friend I ever lost has left something behind deeply imbedded in my heart. We learn from our friends. Ms. Margaret taught me it is okay to say negative things about people (unlike that popular momma saying) if it is the truth and doesn't hurt anyone. My 5 year old friend taught me to "practice my dance moves" which is now my euphemism for experiencing all of life's moments as they come.

    Josh was a treasure and all those moments you shared will be with you always. And know you will find friends as you age, but it seems those that shared your youth have a special place in your life.

    I will find some appropriate time and action to honor your friend and the passing of his soul.

    My thoughts are with you.........

  4. No, there IS "no title" for these experiences. They are to be treasured & gleaned for our good and God's ultimate glory, I believe....

    On a more happy note, I DO believe today (3/6) just may be the 1 year anniversary of Home Ownership for you! Congratulations.

    1. Thanks a million for pointing that out. Last week it was on my radar, but it had totally slipped my mind this week. Hooray. A cause for celebration. I'm so glad you brought it to my attention so early on in the day. What a year. A good year.

  5. Thank you all for taking the time to say a few words of comfort for me. I really appreciate it. The friendship in this blogosphere is not to be underestimated. His memorial service is tomorrow and while I know that will be hard I know it will be good, too. And that I'll get the see and hug a lot of those people that I'm missing so much right now. Which will be good.

  6. I'm so sorry for your loss. You were lucky to have such wonderful friends growing up. I was so isolated growing up that I missed really "knowing" the kids around me and they missed getting to know me as well. We can't go back and change things but what memories we have is what made us who we are today. SO no matter what role a person plays in our life... there was a purpose in the meeting.

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Becky. Very wise. And yes, I was and am, so lucky. That is a good thing to remember.

  7. So sorry, Beth. You've suffered much loss of late, but your deeply kind and reflective soul still shines through it all. Take care, friend.

    1. I sure appreciate your words, Jamie. Thanks and you take care as well!

  8. I am so sorry. Thank you for telling us all about Josh, and sharing the photos, the memories. What a wonderful, sunshine soul. Laughter and kindness. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

    1. Sunshine Soul. Perfect. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with me.

  9. I'm just now seeing this post. It pulls at my heartstrings. I too agree my high school friends have been my best. The people that know the real me, have watched me grow, held my hand through life's big ups and downs, etc. Even though I moved 5 hours away 7 years ago, I'm blessed to say I still have connections with many of them. A few I've been friends with since 2nd grade... 19 years! I just wish I saw them more than once or twice a year *sigh*

    I made a few friends in college, but none of them really stuck around. And making friends as an adult is a real challenge. Meeting them is the first hurdle, but then once you do everyone seems too consumed with their own lives... babies, spouses, jobs, etc. I long for a small group of quality, tight-knit friends.

    On a side note: you live in Billings, Montana?! My new boss in Kansas City came from Billings. He's actually working there today. His family is still there until they can find a house in KC.


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