On Friendship and Breakfast

By | November 12, 2020
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On Friendship and Breakfast

Today started just like any other day. I got up, made coffee, checked, and answered email. Just like so many other of my days have started. Then the phone rang, and this ordinary day quickly turned into a very unordinary day – an incredibly sad day.

And I can honestly say it’s a day I’ve been dreading for months now.

It’s not bad enough our local hospitals are full of COVID patients and they are running out of room for more patients. It’s not bad enough that the pandemic turned our country upside down. It’s not bad enough that the pandemic and its consequences – masks and so forth – have become political footballs. It’s not bad enough that the craziness of this whole situation is turning friend against friend and family member against a family member. It’s not bad enough that things have gotten as terrible as they are, and lives have been turned upside down by the craziness of 2020.

Nope…all of this heaped upon us all in one year was not bad enough…

During this difficult dreadful year, all our lives have been affected in some way. And, you know, I can deal with that. I try to keep my life simple and to always be thankful for the things I have and the things I can do, rather than wasting time wishing for things I don’t have and feeling bad because of things I cannot do.

This morning, the most ordinary of mornings, took a terrible turn when my phone rang. And when I heard the voice on the other end, my best friend’s wife, asking me “are you sitting down?”, this most ordinary of mornings turned into one of those awful mornings that places itself on the calendar of sadness that I’ve kept in my mind since my mother died when I was ten years old.

This morning, it was my sorrowful duty to add the death of my best friend to that horrible and indelible calendar. The calendar in my mind that time can’t erase – the one I’ve lived with and carried with me since I was ten years old.

Now, I have one more loss to mark on it, one more date engraved on my memory along with all the others: my mom, my dad, my stepmom, my sister, my grandfather, my grandmother, and just two years ago, my “southern” best friend, David, and, most recently, abeautiful baby granddaughter.

This morning I added another death to this grim calendar — the death of my dearest friend. A friend I met quite accidentally in 1986.

We’ve been having breakfast at least once a week since then. In the last few years, we’ve been meeting for breakfast twice a week. We’ve met at various local restaurants for over 30 years, just about every single week.

In March of this odd year of 2020 – the pandemic reared its ugly head and restaurants shut down for inside dining. We did, for a while, do “tele-breakfasts”. We’d talk on the phone for an hour a couple of times a week. We called these tele-breakfasts. But we both missed getting together in person.

As the weather got nicer, we both wanted to get together for real breakfasts again, but neither of us was ready to eat inside a restaurant with the pandemic all around. And both of us, he more than me, had pre-existing conditions so neither of us was inclined to take any chances.

Anyway, when the warm weather finally arrived in May, my friend opened what he sarcastically called the “CoronaVirus Inn”. He and his wife set up a facsimile of a restaurant in their over-sized garage. And all through the summer, we had breakfast, twice a week, in this “restaurant’ – just the two of us. I’d call him to take his order and then I’d pick up food at a drive-through -wherever he wanted – and deliver it to the CoronaVirus Inn.

It wasn’t long after we started having breakfast in person again, that my friend learned he had cancer… lung cancer. At first, they told him it was just a small spot. The doctor didn’t seem to show much concern. But my friend learned the truth himself by looking at his medical chart on his online medical portal. He found out then his cancer was terminal. And then furious, he called his oncologist who finally told my friend the truth – he had a year to live – maybe eighteen months if he agreed to chemotherapy.

We talked about whether it would be worth going through chemo for another six months of life. He asked what I would do, and I said I’d try chemo and if it didn’t make me terribly ill, I’d keep doing it. But I pointed out how hard it is to put yourself in someone else’s place.

By now, his cancer was spreading, and he had to decide. He ended up doing chemotherapy. After a month or so they did a PET scan and it showed that while the cancer was shrinking slightly it had metastasized.

My dear friend was a survivor, I’ll tell you that much.

He had survived a liver transplant, a stroke, and a kidney transplant. So as far as I was concerned, his will to live was going to beat cancer – I just knew it. 

We continued our breakfasts at the “CoronaVirus Inn” – twice a week as usual. 

And then…

Last night, just four months after he learned about his terminal cancer diagnosis, my friend died. His breathing became labored and he was fighting hard to breathe. He was rushed to a local emergency room where a code was called and my friend’s valiant fight for life ended.

So, this morning, which began as the most ordinary of mornings, was shattered by a phone call. A single phone call that left me with an empty place in my heart and a hole in my life that will never, ever be filled.

He was my friend and he stood by me through all the challenges and setbacks I’ve had. His friendship never wavered, never faltered, and never weakened. We were a lot younger when we met and, and because he was ten years younger than me, I never thought I’d ever see this dreadful day.

He was a loyal friend. He was the kind of friend everyone wishes they had -but very few ever do. And now he’s gone. And I don’t know how to process the loss. And trust me, I’ve suffered more than my share of losses in my life

It never gets easier.

And because of the coronavirus and the age of his friends, his wife has decided that there will be no funeral – she said she would not want anyone to become infected or sick from attending a funeral.  Instead, she said, they will have a small family-only gathering before his cremation – and if I would like to come, that I was welcome even though I’m not family.

I told her I would rather remember him the way I saw him on Tuesday morning when we had breakfast. I brought him a “bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit” from McDonald’s – that’s what he ordered.

I’ll never forget our time together and I’ll never forget our breakfasts…

I brought a “USA Today” newspaper to almost every breakfast we ever had. It was the fodder for our conversations. And I want to remember him eating his breakfast and talking about our football picks from the previous weekend and him laughing so hard at my picks because I was wrong so many times. But every football season picking college and pro games was our tradition. And we’d laugh at each other’s picks and sometimes argue.

And we talked about – and sometimes laughed at – some of the articles in the paper. And one of the funniest parts of breakfast was reading the TV Listings to him. Especially the Lifetime Movie Channel movies, which he despised. And because he hated them so much, I delighted in making sure I read the Lifetime Movie Channel movie listings for that night. He rolled his eyes… but I know he got a kick out of my insistence on reading them.

So, I will not be going to the family-only gathering before his cremation although I am honored to have been invited.  Instead, I will be remembering his laughter and humor. I will remember him picking on me during our last breakfast about my terrible football picks.

And I’ll remember his last words to me as I left him on Tuesday morning – I said… “See you Friday!” and he said, “See you Friday!” “Thank you!” And we both waved and I walked to my car and drove away.

I don’t know how many breakfasts we’ve had over the last 30+ years, but it must be in the thousands. And I can’t tell you how hard it is to grasp that after all those thousands of breakfasts, we never share another one.

What can I say? No words can express my sorrow. But I bet you know what I’m feeling, don’t you?

I will miss you, my friend, more than any words could ever say.

May you rest in peace always.

I will never, ever forget you.




24 thoughts on “On Friendship and Breakfast

  1. Patty M-Bray

    My condolences, my dear. I, too, have a BBF since 1984 and thought I was losing her her several months ago and spent many hours of the night online finding just the right flowers that I knew she would love and had them sent to her, hoping she would be able to enjoy them. By some miracle she survived that episode and is still living happily with her daughter in Florida. But I know the time is coming and I will again spend many hours mourning her as I did that night months ago. So, I understand your loss and am sending you my love , hoping to help you in some small way as you work your way through this.
    Stay well
    Strong dear T.C.

  2. coraetta root

    Oh so sorry for your deep-felt loss T C. I have to suggest that maybe just maybe you can feel Blessed & Thankful that you were given those Breakfasts & the long-time friendship. Memories that you would not have had that now you can treasure with the feeling of Happyness that God thought you needed in your life. I want to say s that I am sorry for your loss & void. BUT God never closes a door that our Father does not open another one. . Stay strong in your journey TC. Prayers Coraetta.

  3. Sarah Schwarz

    I’m so very sorry for the loss of your best friend. I cant even imagine the pain you must be feeling. I pray your heart will be comforted as you remember him how you last saw him and that the countless joyful memories with him will bless and comfort you in the days ahead. You were both so blessed to have each other and i have no doubt he felt the same. Until you two meet again, may God’s peace and comfort be with you.

  4. Vicki Garrett

    TC, I, too, have a close friend who is one I’ve known since we were in 7th grade together, way back when since both of us are now in our mid-70s. We both live in different states but have kept in touch through letter writing (yes, paper and pencil as she is basically computer unknowledgeable). We each claim the other as sister’s in heart as neither of us have a sister. Whenever we think about things beyond our life I hope that someone in our family will notify us like your friend’s wife. It would leave us with a hole in our hearts for sure. I am so very sorry to hear of David’s passing. I never knew him but learned of your closeness through another essay you wrote of him. The memories you shared will be even more important to you. David is going to be missed a lot and can feel your pain in losing hime, I know that for a fact. Just treasure the memories, as I’m sure you will. God bless you TC.

  5. Sandy E

    How sad TC. I’m sorry you lost your friend. This is the really tough part of life. Keep your memories they will help get you threw this rough part.

  6. Sharon Halverson

    TC your tears are my tears also as I read your tribute to your friend. My prayers are with his Family and you that the good memories will sustain you and bring happiness your way.

  7. Jackie Keesee

    I am so sorry you had to go through this TC. I am 82 and I too lost my best friend and other very close friends. I think this is one of the hardest things to go through. This brought me to tears and refreshed the grief I feel for all the friends and family I have lost through the years. You are in my prayers.

  8. Chase

    TC, I extend my deepest sympathy to you. I pray that you are being comforted during this very sad time. (Chase)

  9. Barbara Curths

    Good afternoon TC,

    I just finished reading your reflection on the passing of your best friend. You did him proud and I’m sure he would have approved of your putting into words what you feel in your heart. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    I know the feeling of losing both parents, two brothers, two sisters-in-law, several good friends and more recently, my oldest child Mitch. It was unexpected and sudden. He had a heart attack and was found deceased in his bed by his only son. He died alone. His wife had died in her 40s of the same thing, sudden and unexpected. The hole he has left in my heart and life is so terrible I sometimes want to scream till I have no breath left. Losses like this never go away. I’m sure you will never forget nor not miss your best friend.

    You were wise not to attend the burial…we had family only attend Mitch’s stone placement; he had been buried earlier in a small family service at the cemetery. We didn’t have the stone prepared at that time so had a placement of it with family and close friends. He loved motocross and used to ride bikes so I had a motorcycle engraved on his headstone . His best friend drove his motorcycle with his ashes in a saddle bag to the cemetery, doing a wheelie at 70 mph. I know Mitch would have appreciated that. We gathered together in that cemetery on a gorgeous day under blue skies as a Bald Eagle circled overhead…we said our good byes. He is about 150 miles north of here so I can’t go to the cemetery often and especially with Covid raging, I don’t leave the house. But I talk to him often and watch videos and keep him close in my heart.

    So I think I know the pain you are feeling and I send you a hug and pray you find peace somehow. Thank you for sharing your loss with us. Prayers are being said for you.

    Your friend,

  10. Charlyne J Craver

    TC, thanks for sharing that beautiful tribute to David. My thoughts and prayers go out to you today.
    I do understand your feelings. I am the oldest member of my family still alive. I, too, have a friend that has been my friend since Kindergarten and we are 82 and unable to meet in person but do keep close in touch.
    Your writing reminded me that we are not always in control but we can still “be there” for others and help to ease circumstances and shed love..
    You are in my prayers today.
    God Bless,

  11. Maggie

    TC . To have had such a wonderful person as part of your life for so long you have been truly blessed. In this day and age they do not seem to come along very often. May your very dear friend have a safe journey and may God hold out his hand to welcome him home.
    Condolences and sympathy at this very sad time.

  12. Sandy F

    TC please accept another condolence. My heart aches for you, but my mind rejoices that you had such a great friend.

  13. Holly Cohen

    Dear TC,

    I too have a best friend since we were ten yrs old and that was a life time ago. So I understand how you feel now with his passing. But he will always live on in your heart and mind. You gave him such a wonderful tribute! May you find some measure of peace with the memories.
    Special Prayers, Holly

  14. Debbie Fahlman

    TC, I’m sorry for the pain you are feeling from yet the loss & that of your very dear friend. Adding another name to your calendar of losses is very painful for those of us still alive. The pain we feel never leaves us.
    The memories you have of him will remain with you, & eventually you will laugh when you remember him rolling his eyes at the Lifetime Movie Channel, & your football picks.
    Many prayers for you as you face the days ahead without him & the others you have lost. He will be watching over you until you meet again!

  15. Snowflake281

    My sincere condolences to you T.C. & to David’s wife, now widow. I don’t know how she felt during all that time her husband struggled to get through each day, but I can tell you that I can relate to her situation dealing with my own sweet husband’s stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I have come to hate the word cancer to such a level that I never thought could be attained. I feel like I am in suspended animation waiting for his doctors to say there’s nothing more we can do for him just like they told me when my mother had gall bladder cancer. He & I are fighting the good fight & I know I must stay strong for him. We have our faith & we know that gives us our strength to get through these difficult days. I will pray for you T.C. & David’s wife. May the Lord bless you & keep you.

  16. Maria Ware

    So sorry for your loss. Sending you hugs and prayers as well as your friend’s family.

  17. Eileen

    I would like to express my sympathy for the loss of your friend. As we get older it seems one after another of our friends and family die. It is the way things are. Cancer is one of the worst. We lost our dear daughter in law this summer to cancer. It leaves a big gap in your life but you will remember him in your heart.

  18. Kyle F.

    I think everyone who ever lost a friend can relate to this essay. it’s well-written and touching. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Margo

    Oh what a nice tribute to a friend. Thank you so much for sharing this. I just lost a life-long friend in June. I know exactly how you feel. You friend was lucky to have you for a friend too.

  20. Ann (UK)

    This is such a touching and beautifully worded tribute. My thoughts go out to you and your late friend’s family and loved ones. His pain and battle are both over, but remember the happy times you shared – remember him with a smile. I am sure that is what he would wish.

    1. Polly Knox

      Friendship-and breakfast.

      Beautiful, but sad story. My BFF of 34 years has Dementia . Wewere true friends, always there for each other and others. I call every week and tell her everything I know and bring up things we have done that I know she liked. She can’t talk now only make sounds. I will continue to call until her daughter says she knows no one.
      Thank you for the story.

  21. Sharon Langdon

    TC, I am so saddened by your loss. I can only imagine your grief since your feelings are your own but I can imagine how I would feel to lose my best friend, Karen. We have been friends for 40+ years. I would do anything in the world for her and I know she would do the same for me. I’m blessed to have her. As you were blessed to have your friend, David. Those kinds of friendships don’t come along every day. I pray your good memories will sustain you as you go on without him. But I’m sure he will forever be with you in your thoughts and in your heart. Sharon Langdon


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