This morning, I was walking around downtown with my daughter. As we strolled down the street holding hands, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with emotion and suddenly, tears started streaming down my face.
The Peanut looked up at me with her innocent eyes and said, "What's wrong, Daddy?"
"Daddy's a little sad today."
"Because 9 years ago today, I lost one of my best friends."
"How did you lose him, Daddy?"
"He died, Peanut."
You died, Andy. Even after all these years, I still can't get over saying those words. They sound so final, so cold, so dark.
God knows that you were anything but dark, my friend. You had a laugh that wasn't so much infectious as it was healing. Your smile lit up a room. And your eternal optimism could make even the most depressed person see the brighter side of things.
I still can't believe it's been 9 years since we lost you, Andy. After all these years, I still struggle to make sense out of it. How could life be so cruel to take you away from us at such a young age? You had just turned 30 years old. We were all so young. Our futures were so far ahead of us.
Recently I wrote an article offering advice to younger people around the age of 30. Ironic, eh? Much of my advice centered upon my belief that life is short. I wrote about how it's often said that before you die, your life passes before your eyes. It's called living. Don't let it pass you by.
When you're 30, you can't fully comprehend or appreciate what that means. They're just words on paper. Ramblings from an old man. But for me, it's more than a mere aphorism. It's a philosophy of life that I wholeheartedly embrace. More importantly, it's a philosophy I learned from you. Not only by being your friend but also from losing you.
To this day, I always think of how you treated everyone so kindly and my friendship with you always reminds me that good friends are better than good jobs or good trips or lots of money or any of the other things that are stand-ins for what life really is about. My friendship with you helped strengthen in me the shapeless, nameless muscle one needs to nurture friendships. I’ve become a better friend to others and a more compassionate person than I ever would have had our paths not crossed. It's one of the greatest gifts that you ever gave me.
Speaking of friends, you'd still laugh your ass off if you saw us now. Life may change but somehow it still remains the same. "La famiglia" (as you always liked to call all of us) is still as close as ever. We may be a little older and a little grayer but, at the end of the day, we're still that bunch of silly misfits who love nothing more than being with each other. Russell is still the hilarious lovable misanthrope that he always was. Kyle and I hung out with him last week and we're still nursing a hangover. Roy continues to live in Miami but instead of hitting the hot spots of South Beach, he now spends most of his time hitting golf balls and changing diapers. Shary has finally turned into the endearing old man that we knew he would always become. Most nights, we suspect he falls asleep before his kids do. And since Kyle and I are now both single, we spend a lot of our time acting like we did 9 years ago. Need I say more?
But we miss you, Andy. We miss you so damn much. We think about you all the time and we miss you as much today as we did when we first lost you. Every time we're all together, we still talk about our favorite memories of you. We can be anywhere in the world and one of us will quietly raise a glass and simply say, "To GoGo." Without fail, tears will always come to our eyes as we take a moment to remember how much we miss you.
While memories of our time together may fade, our love for you never does. Truly great friends like you are hard to find and impossible to forget. And quite simply, you were one of the best friends a guy could ever have.As always on this day, I just want you to know that I'm thinking about you. I always have and I always will.
Rest in peace, Andy.
Your friend Pierre
Andrew Golkin, 1970-2001