Mendy, Brian, Ben, Natalie, Jill, Nancy & Fred.
These are the friends I’ve had for as long as I can remember. Since before I can remember, really. All country kids like me, who grew up a few fields over, or just up the road.
I don’t see most of them much anymore, with the exception of Mendy and, more recently, Brian.
The third name on the list is Ben. Ben’s family farmed just up the road from mine, and although we’ve known each other forever, we were really close for a short period of time between the ages of maybe 4-6-ish. In an oft told story, I was invited to his birthday party one year – I think I was five – and was the only girl in attendance; just me and 10-12 boys, most of whom hailed from the somewhat rough and tumble village of Grammer (located off another country road between my house and Ben’s). I remember a game of hide and seek where Ben & I took refuge in the middle of a large forsythia bush in their backyard.
After the party Ben told his Mom that for his next birthday, he wanted to invite only me.
As we grew older we existed for each other only in a peripheral if friendly fashion, periodically spending time together when taking part in drama productions in high school, sharing rides home from rehearsals.
Since high school I’ve seen Ben less than a handful of times, the last one being at least 16 years ago, when Joshua and I went to his house and met his wife Michelle and laughed together at some of the old stories.
Despite the distance and the time, when I got the call this morning that Michelle had died unexpectedly during the night at the young age of 38, it didn’t seem like many years had passed at all since Ben & I pulled each other around my parent’s yard in an old green bedspread, sure that if we went fast enough we might take off and fly.
He’s still that friend I’ve known since before either of us can remember.
And today he’s suffered a loss I cannot begin to imagine. And there are no words adequate to the moment.
So I will use someone else’s:
“Life is eternal; and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.” - Rossiter Raymond
Tonight that horizon probably seems endlessly far away.