Back in the olden days, when I was hanging out with "Toby" all the time, I also was hanging out with his best friend Brian a lot. Brian was a big guy and he has a huge heart. He was always genuine, and honest, and his teddy bear like personality was infectious and addicting. He was someone you always wanted to be around. I cannot think of a single time that I wasn't happy when he was around.
Brian was displaced after Hurricane Katrina and ended up in Council Bluffs working at Horseshoe. Lucky us. We were so so lucky to get him.
Most of my nights hanging out with Brian and Toby were at karaoke bars, where they would sing together and I would pick out songs for them to perform. It was always so much fun. I adored Brian.
One night, I was out without them, and I saw a familiar face. Brian's wife. With another guy. Clearly on a romantic date. I left the bar and called Toby and told him what I saw. Toby came straight over.
"I called Brian on my way over, he's coming over when he gets off," he said as soon as he walked in the door.
"Are you gonna tell him?"
"No, you are gonna tell him. You're the one who saw her," he said.
What the fuck Toby! I got nervous right away. How am I supposed to break this news to the nicest guy in the world?
Brian walked in awhile later with two McDonalds bags. "I brought dinner!" He exclaimed happily, and emptied out a heavenly amount of dollar menu items on my kitchen table.
Neither Toby nor I reached for the food, and I gently broke the news to Brian. It wasn't a surprise to him, although it was shocking she was being so public about the affair.
Brian divorced her, and things spiraled south after that. He finally ended up moving to get a fresh start.
I haven't seen Brian since he moved, but we did talk on Facebook every so often. The last message I got from him was about a year ago, when Toby went to Kansas to see him.
Him - Toby was a rock star! As usual!
Me - he always is.
Him - you should have come with him!
Me - we aren't exactly on the best terms right now.
Him - what?! He only spoke very highly of you.
Me - well that's nice to hear. But we are "over" again.
Him - you two just have terrible timing.
Me - something like that.
Him - don't get hung up on it. You are going to find someone and be so happy. You are bound for happiness, I know it. You'll end up with someone wonderful. You probably already know him, he's probably right in front of you.
For some reason, that message exchange has always been in the back of my mind. And I didn't know it then, but it was the last time I would ever get to "talk" to him.
Brian died earlier this month for heart failure. He was only 42. He has finally found happiness with a wonderful woman and he seemed so, so happy.
I am so sad. I'm sad for Toby, who lost his friend, and I'm so sad for his family.