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I Am Thankful For My Friendship With Ron, Who Passed Away
As Thanksgiving approaches, I wanted to give thanks for the friendship I was blessed to have with my friend, Ron, who passed away years ago due to complications with sickle cell anemia.
We knew each other from high school, as we had some classes together and he always had a kind spirit about him. He was the epitome of Zen while being able to crack a smile and a joke at a moment's notice.
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He was the type of person who could be friends with anyone and always appeared to be from my perspective. I remember him mostly for his ability to have comedic commentary but in a low-key manner at the right times in class.
We would occasionally hang out outside of school but we started to become even closer when we started working together. I began working at an alarm company and when he needed a job, I helped him get in working the same shift as me as his supervisor.
We worked the overnight shift together and whenever he was there, we always had a good time laughing at the absurdity that encompassed that job and life itself. He was a perfect hire except he would disappear for a month at a time to be admitted to the hospital.
Admittingly, back then I didn't really know how sickle cell affected someone and what they had to endure. I had no idea how much pain he was constantly going through and I didn't understand the significance of him going to the hospital because he never made it seem significant.
I had no idea how much Ron was suffering because he never wanted the people around him to worry about him being sick: he just wanted to be treated like everyone else. For me it was confusing but if he was minimizing his visits as being routine, then I followed his lead.
Whenever I think about him, I think about when we got into a car accident together. I was driving and the car in front of me stopped short and the young woman in the Volkswagen behind me slammed on the brakes but still knocked into my bumper.
As we all got out of the car, I looked at the back of my bumper, there was literally a scratch on my bumper as the only damage. I was young and called my mother to tell her about the encounter. The woman was extremely remorseful and kept apologizing for hitting me.
Suddenly she said, "Do you want some money?" Ron and I looked at each other then looked at her and said "Sure!"
We followed her to the ATM laughing because we were ready to go home and here she was giving us money.
At the time I had long dreadlocks, so as she handed me the money she said "Now, don't spend it all on weed" and Ron started laughing hysterically. Why? Because I was actually straight-edge and Ron was the one who smoked weed.
After Ron died, I thought about that moment and made the connection that Ron smoked weed to help relieve the pain he was routinely experiencing and not necessarily for the feeling of being high. I wish I’d made that connection back then.
Years went by and I moved around a lot, and my contact with him became very limited. The last time I saw him was a couple of years before he passed away. He called me to see if I would give him a ride to the hospital to which I agreed.
I remember he had a slight grimace on his face but he didn't make it seem like a big deal. I'd ask if he was alright and he would always confirm that he'll be alright. He always wanted it to appear as routine and nothing to be concerned about.
I was at work when I was notified that Ron died and I broke down in my job's bathroom. I didn't understand how someone like Ron, who was barely 30 years old, could be dead. He was one of the best people I'd ever known & at his funeral, I discovered I wasn't alone in this feeling.
When it was time to give a eulogy, every one of my classmates came up to the microphone and said how they were best friends and shared a memory of theirs with us all. However, I never gave a eulogy and I regret not doing so: I just didn't want to cry in front of everyone.
So, this is my eulogy for Ron and you can't see me crying as I'm typing this.
Ron taught me that in the midst of suffering, you can still laugh and enjoy life the best that you can. He didn't talk about his illness because he wanted to enjoy what was good & not dwell on the bad.
Ron's passing served as another example of how precious life is and how important it is to impact others in a positive way before you're taken away from this place. I think Ron knew that his life would be significantly shorter than everyone else's and he wanted to cherish it all.
I miss my friend dearly but I am glad to have been blessed to have as much time as I did with him while he was alive. I know he would be proud of the man and father I am today.
Life is precious, so show your appreciation for the people you care about while they're here and strive to be a positive force in the world as Ron did.
I am and will always be thankful to have known and been friends with Ron.