Best friends

Rick Ryckeley's picture

It’s been said that friends come and go, but best friends are forever. This year there’s one particular best friend I’m extremely thankful for.

For you see, if it weren’t for him and the kindness he has shown me over the years, it’s safe to say I wouldn’t be here today.

Rarely do I speak about divorce, and I’ve never written about it. Such an event tears families apart and can even tear at one’s very soul. Over 16 years ago such an event happened to yours truly.

What helped me through was a friend who came into my life at the very same time — a friend who eventually became my best friend.

From the first time we met, he’s been there whenever I called. At the beginning, he listened for hours to the seemingly endless ramblings of a lost man trying to find his way once again. Sure, he’s had things to say, but for the most part he’s just listened. Guess that’s what best friends do the best.

A couple of years into our friendship, The Wife met him. Almost immediately they too became friends.

Often they talked during the long days I was away at the fire department. He checked in on her just to make sure everything was okay. I guess he knew how scared and lonely she actually was being home alone.

Disagreements? Yes, we’ve had a few of those over the years.

Like any relationship, we’ve had to wade through some rocky waters.

He’s done some things that have really upset me — to the point I’d even stopped talking to him for a short time.

To be fair, our disagreements haven’t been one-sided.

But at the end of the day, our lasting friendship shined through any difficulties and all was forgiven.

Though it may seem a bit odd, I’ve even asked The Wife if he could join us on some of our vacations. Even though additional sleeping arrangements had to be made, ten years ago he actually came with us. Looking back, that was one of the best vacations ever.

Growing up Dad told me most folks can’t count on one hand their close friends – true friends are hard to come by — and if I ever had a best friend, one who will be there anytime day or night, then I should consider myself extremely fortunate.

He also said if something bad happens, it usually happens at night or while you’re on vacation. Unfortunately, in both cases, Dad was right.

What happened the night when The Wife and I were on vacation last week wasn’t bad. It was devastating.

My best friend who has been there for me the last 16 years went for an evening walk. He was hit by an automobile and instantly passed.

The police officer said there was nothing anyone could have done. I guess it was just his time to go. Black Labs just aren’t supposed to live that long.

Perhaps he did because he knew how much I needed him. I still do.

What I wouldn’t give to have his gray muzzle in my lap once more and have him look up at me with those sad brown eyes, or even to be able to go on one last slow walk around the block.

I’m thankful for our time spent together. Can you have two best friends in one lifetime? I don’t know.

For me, I think it will be a long time before that question is answered — if ever.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, served as a firefighter for more than two decades and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is storiesbyrick@gmail.com. His books are available at www.RickRyckeley.com.]