I can honestly say that I have been to more funerals than I have weddings. I have been to more wakes than baptisms. On my way home from work today I realized that I have out lived three of my dearest friends. Days like Thursday I faced the sun and dared to ask “Why?” Why God do you keep taking my friends away. Then I paused for a moment and thought “maybe I just know how to befriend earth-bound angels. Maybe God saw that their purpose was served and he called his weary travelers home. Home to rest on the clouds of heaven.
I didn’t want to go home after work and I knew I had to go to Charlie’s condo. I wasn’t ready so I drove out to the Mall of America and walked around for a few hours. The mall was filled with groups of friends, laughter and smiles. I didn’t feel like smiling. Inside I was dying. I wanted my best friend back. Not even gummy butterflies could turn my frown into a smile. It was getting late so I headed home to get the muppet like dog and we drove over to the Ivy.
As I walked in the door man greeted me and asked “Hey AJ! How are you. Charlie must be home early if your here tonight.” I lost it right there in the lobby. I looked at him and said Charlie isn’t coming home. “Oh Mr. Charlie staying in NYC permanently?” No sir, Charlie died this morning. He won’t be coming home. The doorman walked me to the elevator bay and gave me hug.
That was the longest elevator ride ever and it felt weird walking into his condo. Things looked different to me and it didn’t feel the same. It didn’t feel like Charlies home any more. His coffee table was filled with board games and playboys. The throw blanket on his couch still smelled like his cologne. Cullen was walking around looking for him and I said “Charlie isn’t coming home pal. Our Charlie is gone.” Cullen scampered off as I curled up in the blanket breathing his scent in. Looking out at the Minneapolis Skyline. The view is why Charlie loved living in The Ivy.
I laughed a little, Charlie use to tell me “AJ the moment you fall a sleep is when the fun begins.” That is when he’d hijack my twitter account and tweet my secrets or that nights sleep conversation to the world. I’d fall a sleep next to him as he was drafting documents for and plotting his plan of action for his next big court date. He’d tell me “AJ in you I’ve got the best of both worlds. I’ve got a best friend who is also my paralegal.” Best part is I don’t have to bill you for your proofing and drafting expertise.”
The Black’s Law Dictionary sat next to connect four on the coffee table. I ran my fingers across the box and the tears began to fall. Charlie loved that game and I remembered how excited he was when he bought it. I sat on the floor watching him pop out the plastic pieces and explaining “Charlies version” of the game. If you lost you had to take a shot of whiskey. I swear he cheated. I was the one taking the shots and getting tipsy. He’d look at me wild-eyed and would let out a roar of a laugh. I realize now that playing board games was a distraction from the outside world. When we sat on the floor he was not a lawyer and I was not a paralegal. We were simply Charlie and AJ best friends for life.
The muppet was being super quiet so I got up to investigate. I found him curled up in one of Charlies sweat shirts that he left on his bedroom floor. I nelt down beside him. His eyes looked so sad he huffed a little, the tears began to fall again. I patted Cullen’s head and said “I’m gonna miss him to pal.”
As I sat next to the muppet I kept hoping that Charlie would burst through the door. He didn’t it was just me and my muppet like dog. I quickly glanced at the clock it was almost midnight and I had to be up early for work. So I scooped up Connect Four and a few other things that would be put into his casket. I made sure everything was the way Charlie left it and said goodbye. I have so many good memories in that condo, I hope the next person loves it as much as he did.
Our friendship grew out of horrible circumstances and in the end it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. Charlie saw me through the hard times and cheered me on during the good times. Charlie was my rock, my bartender, psychologist, partner in crime, and mostly he was my best friend.