The time has come to say goodbye, our plates empty except
for our greasy napkins. Comrades, you on my left, balding,
middle-aged guy with a ponytail, and you, Lefty, there on my
right, though we barely spoke I feel our kinship. You were
steadfast in passing the ketchup, the salt and pepper, no man
could ask for better companions. Lunch is over, the cheese-
burger and fries, the Denver sandwich, the counter nearly
empty. Now we must go our separate ways. Not a fond embrace,
but perhaps a hearty handshake. No? Well then, farewell. It is
unlikely I'll pass this way again. Unlikely we will all meet again
on this earth, to sit together beneath the neon and fluorescent
calmly sipping our coffee, like the sages sipping their tea
underneath the willow, sitting quietly, saying nothing.
My daughter texted yesterday to tell me she and her fiance have lost a dear friend; a member of the small family of loved ones they have collected in New Orleans. And, like many deaths of those in their twenties, unnecessary. As one gets older and sees the winnowing of our tribes, you grow to learn that all the deaths seem unnecessary whether it's age twenty-five, fifty-five, or eighty-five. Why now? Why not one more day? One more conversation.