I’ve received a lot of support from family and friends since my friend Regi died.
My friend Phil texted, “I hope you’re doing well. What an incredible week you’ve had. I hope Grayson is doing well as well as mom, dad, and little brother. I hope Regi’s celebration of life went well yesterday and that the snow did not interrupt anything.”
Yes. Regi died on Friday night. My grandson was born on Tuesday night.
My friend Mark wrote me an email about Regi and ended it with, “I am equally saddened for your loss. Life is rich when there are close-close friends to share it with. I know that there is a huge hole in your heart from his passing. I also know that he will be with you, and his spirit will talk to you and remind you of messages past. I am sorry, Charlie, that you have lost a soulmate.”
My sister, Janet, texted me, “I’m sorry that he is gone. I think he was quite a mainstay in your life.” Then she wrote a few minutes later, “p.s. After I wrote the above message, I said to myself: I guess Charlie is the mainstay in my life.”
I’ll stop here. There were so many messages. I am grateful for each.
But my sister’s message hit on something I was thinking about. I did not think the word “mainstay,” but this word captured much of the feelings I had and couldn’t express.
Three close friends have died now.
I feel like I have a friendship Hall of Fame. This Hall of Fame includes Denny Brown, Geoffrey Richardson, and now Regi Campbell. These men were exceptional in my life. My friend Mark used the term soulmate. That’s another good word to capture who these men were to me. Who I was to these men.
But there is something else. Something much more personal, something I miss, which makes me sound selfish.
These men were for me.
They believed in me. They thought I had greatness in me. They encouraged me whenever we were together.
Over ten years ago, Regi said to me, seemingly out of the blue, “If you ever figure out what you are passionate about, you will be unstoppable.”
What man says this to another man unless he is for him?
Then there were the hard conversations. Those disagreements which set my blood boiling. He would say something that had me respond in full emotion with a four-letter word. I would then leave and tell other people what a jerk he was. How he didn’t understand. The nerve of him!
All my Hall of Famers said things to me like this. But here’s why they are in my Hall of Fame. Their eyes told me they loved me. I thought about what they said, and it was the truth. They were trying to help me, not hurt me. It wasn’t about control to them. Or gaining the upper hand. Or even about judging me.
It was about helping me see the path ahead. How what I was doing was inhibiting my progress. They showed me I was in a rut. Stuck. Unhappy. Trying to convince myself I was right in my thinking and behavior.
They stood in front of me and said, “Stop. Look. If you keep doing what you are doing, you’ll never be all I see you can be.”
These men were mainstays in my life.
I loved them, and I feared them. I feared them because they knew me. They got me. I wanted to ignore them, but I just couldn’t. I had to listen to them.
“Can’t we just have a conversation about baseball or something light?” I would say to track-switch the conversation.
Not with these guys. Nope. They saw something in me I didn’t want to address. They saw possibilities. They made me believe, “You can do it.”
I will miss them terribly. And that’s why they are in my Hall of Fame.
My sister got me thinking, “Whose Hall of Fame will I be a part of?”