It's been nearly a week since I've posted. Part of it is decompressing with the beginning of my school break. Part of it was also dealing emotionally with coming across the photograph at the top of this post.
The picture was taken in July of 1985 at the farewell party my housemates threw for me when I finished my Master's work. The guy on the left is my old friend Jamie, who was one of the housemates. I got back in touch with him last year after losing track of him for ten years. The guy on the right was our mutual friend Mark "Atwood" Evans, who was murdered in a botched robbery nearly four years ago. His killer was convicted last year of murdering one of the accomplices in the robbery to silence him.
When Mark died, there were two things I set out to do. One was to find the picture, which had gone missing for a couple of years. The other was to track Jamie down to let him know what had happened. I'd hoped to find him before the funeral so he could attend, but that didn't happen. Every few weeks, I'd hit the internet searching for him again. Then, last year, at "Atwoodfest," a party we have every year around his birthday to celebrate Mark's life and memory, I remembered that our friend Sue, who was at the party, had grown up with Jamie's wife. Sure enough, Sue was Facebook friends with Jamie's wife. I friended her and sent a message for Jamie to contact me. I was able to tell him what had happened. It was, not surprisingly, devastating for him. I'd had three years to cope with Mark's death. It was new to him. To make matters worse, Jamie's mother had died recently. I badly wished that I'd been able to able to contact him sooner.
Over the last year, we've gone back to our old habit of epic phone conversations-- an old joke of "faxing" one another a drink over the phone has been resurrected. Two wild boys who met in their early twenties and got into a lot mischief are now rapidly approaching fifty and the fathers of teenaged kids. We're still the same old guys, though, with our in-jokes, liberal politics and memories about hijinks past. It's been really, really good to be back in touch with him. Between the fact that we live 50 miles apart, and the reality that jobs and kids, we haven't been able to get together yet since our reunion. But in May, when I have a break from school and he is off of work to have a knee replacement done, we're going to try to meet up.
This Friday, I went looking for something in a box in my basement and came across the picture of Jamie and Mark. I was stunned. After nearly four years, I'd given the photograph up as lost forever. I scanned it and emailed it to everybody who I thought would want it. Except Jamie. Luddite that he is, he refuses to go online. Fortunately, I was able to send the picture to his wife, who showed it to him. He told me he cried when he saw it. Today, I put the scanned picture on my USB flash drive and ran over to Target to print up a picture. I dropped it into an envelope and mailed it to him this evening.
I talked to him for a while tonight and let him know I'd be sending it. We made our plans to get together and started planning a trip to visit Mark's grave. After I got off the phone with him, I thought about how Jamie was one of a small handful of friends who I'd planned to grow old with-- Mark, Jamie, Larry, Tim, Dobie, Dan, Carolyn and a few others. And as painful as losing Mark was, I am thankful every day for the rest of them.