Finding that last pack of pictures from my days at The Official All Star Café got me thinking of Tim. Tim was a waiter from the south that I worked with during another bartending job I had. We struck up a friendship that continued when he got himself hired after I did at the All Star. Sometime around 1998, Tim was killed. He used to rollerblade to and from work all the time. Tim practically lived on his blades. One Saturday afternoon in Queens, Tim was hit by a city bus, and died on the street. We had a memorial service a week or so later at the restaurant, and I decided Tim needed a proper eulogy. I'd never given one before but I have since. I wrote this for Tim and only did one rewrite.
Once again, I have to say goodbye to a friend.
You know, becoming an adult as I have in the age of AIDS, you find out real fast that good people die young. You would think that learning how to mourn a friend’s passing would get easier. You would think that the shock of having a vibrant, vital light of life suddenly turned out in the blink of an eye would be easier to take. You would be wrong.
One late night last week, I had made plans with Tim and a couple of other people to get up in the morning and go to the beach. It was already after 1 am and I knew at the time that there was no way I was going to have my rapidly aging white ass out of bed at 9 am to go to the beach, but I said yes anyway. I woke up about 12:30 the next day and saw my message light blinking. Sure enough, the little shit was up and ready to go. I didn’t really worry about it though. I figured that summer had just started. I had two whole months of beach plans to make. We can plan a trip to Fire Island. We’ve got all the time in the world. Leave it to my friend Tim to prove me wrong.
We have a skydiving trip coming up. Someone asked me if I planned on going this time. Without a moments hesitation I said no. You see, at an age when a lot of you were figuring out how to start repaying your college loans, I was facing the very real possibility of not seeing 30. And while lately the footsteps of death have thankfully begun to fade (Ed. Note: HA!), the result is it makes you completely aware of how random life can be. The simple act of walking out your front door can result in a fatal case of air conditioner to head disease. Leave it to my friend Tim to prove me right.
I met Tim several years ago, shortly after he moved to New York. He had a really bad haircut and was extremely quiet. About a week later he fixed the hair and was so. not. quiet….. Like so many people do, he left his friends and family behind to start over here and make a new life. Like so many people don’t, he was succeeding.
This can be an unforgiving city. Over the years I have watched Tim struggle to build a life for himself and Mark. On more than one occasion I was awestruck at just how strong he really was. On more than one occasion I thought, well that’s it, the poor thing is gonna crumble. And it never happened. I watched him when he got robbed, when he quit crappy jobs, when Mark drove him nuts. Hell, I watched him party all night on a twenty dollar bill and still go home with six dollars change, Mama! It was, at times, like watching a child build a castle on the beach, and every single time the waves came crashing in or some heartless kid came and kicked it over he would start again. Slowly, methodically, refilling the pail. In all the time I’ve known him, Tim never once told me he was giving up.
There are those that have said we have to accept this loss and take comfort in the fact that Tim is in a better place now. Well I do not accept this loss because Tim never accepted loss, only the struggle to win. I choose instead to celebrate a life too brief. And as to Tim being in a better place, I can tell you as sure as I’m standing here today, wherever that place is, extensive renovations have already begun.
To Tim’s family, who I’ve never met, I offer condolences.
To Mark, our prayers are with you. Please know that Tim’s life touched ours in a way that we had no choice but to gather and mark his passing. He mattered. He will be remembered.
Once again, I have to say goodbye to a friend. With Tim, there is only one way to do it right. I only need two words:
P.S. Everyone please take a moment to send some good thoughts to my internet buddy RJ. He's hit a rough patch and could use some well wishes.