My friend Charlie recently died after an extended illness. That's a polite way of saying that he struggled for every breath he took for a long, long time.
I got to know Charlie through his blog and we became friends. I was always amazed that he wanted to be my friend. I was always astounded and very, very proud when he took the time to comment on my writing because Charlie was one heck of a wordsmith. The best.
He had a razor-sharp wit with which he attempted to cover a heart of glowing gold-white light. He didn't fool me. He lived a lot harder than a lot of people. He took full responsibility for harming his body with his nasty habits. That's a polite way of saying addictions. He was in recovery from the drugs, but unfortunately they had already done their dirty work. I'm not telling secrets out of school, by the way. Charlie became an educator about alcoholism. An educator that knew his time was precious and he wasted none of it judging people.
He did, however, judge books. He critiqued them. A wise, well-read, spark-shooting, honest, intelligent (oh, I can hear him now telling me to cut the crap) man who understood the value of adding four legged folks to ones family.
As you might imagine, Charlie had a large following, including lots of women of all ages who regularly professed their love and emailed their hugs to him. Alas, Charlie had Martha, to whom he often referred. I only know her through Charlie's writings, but I reckon she must be a sort of ever-patient angel who wasn't afraid to use a cattle prod when necessary. The perfect woman for him.
I so wanted to write a perfect column for him. Maybe a breath-taking poem (Oh, sorry about that pun, Charlie!). And maybe I'll be able to do that one day soon. But right now, I'm crying too hard to think about meter and rhythm and rhyme and I'll be damned if I'll write a half-assed poem for Charlie.
I like the idea that the Universe continues to expand because every good person's death becomes a new star. The Heavens will be lit quite well now.
To say I'll miss him is such an understatement that it misses the point. So I'll just say, Thanks, Charlie. I'll catch you later.