He was a friend, admirer, and protector. Never a lover. He was like the older brother I never had.
A decade-plus older with way more work experience, he was one of the first colleagues to help me understand how good of a leader I actually am. He was crusty and opinionated but looked up to me. As an independent contractor he could work with anyone, and he chose to work for me. I was humbled by his praise.
I was blessed by his presence in my life.
During one of the projects we worked together on he took a pastry course. We all looked forward to Wednesday mornings when the treats would arrive. Never fully satisfied with his work, he rebuffed our compliments, said through stuffed mouths. He always showed up on time to my parties. He was single the whole time I knew him and at first I assumed he was gay. Turned out after his last long-term relationship he’d tired of trying, and spent his time doting on his nieces and nephews. But he always had relationship advice for me.
He was the one who called me the day after my party, where HWSNBN lost his shit, to make sure I was okay. He made me promise to end it and offered to do anything I needed to keep me safe.
At my party, HWSNBN had told him to “fuck off” after he made a nice comment about my legs. Blind with jealousy, HWSNBN couldn’t see the friendship and teasing behind the comment. And his anger at my friend helped cement his demise. No asshole was going to come between me and the people I choose to surround myself with.
The last time I saw him he sat in one of my comfy chairs, joked about my cast, then quietly disclosed his recent absence from my life was due to depression, not a physical illness as I’d feared. He was starting to realize it was okay to share, but knew his pride and stubborn nature got in the way.
We promised to see each other soon.
That was February.
And now I mourn the loss. His death was sudden and unexpected, and a reminder to try to live every day as if it was not only my last day, but my friends and family’s as well.