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My best friend died yesterday.

DSC01161And my heart is broken.

His name was Paul.  He was a talented artist.  But not enough people knew it.  I love him like a brother.

And my heart is broken.

He was my neighbor and we shared a love of gardening.  That was our first common bond.  The first of many.  I would make a mess pruning and such and he would come along after me and clean up.  Always pleased to help.  He would give me gardening advice, always very humbly.  We spent countless hours taking care of plants and discussing them.  He became a part of my garden I guess.  Always cheering me up.  I will never be able to garden again without thinking of him.  But he was much more than just my gardening buddy.

My heart is broken.

I could tell him anything, like best friends can.  When my husband was driving me crazy he would listen to me rant and rave!  Always patient and compassionate.  Never taking sides.  That bugged me sometimes, but he was like that.  He didn’t judge.  Well except that guy on the bus who kept coming on to a girl.  He did not like him.  Not at all.  I’m sure his concern was more for the girl.  He deeply respected women.

My  heart is broken.

He had a hard life.  He grew up in East Los Angeles.  Not the best area of California.  He was one of seven children.  He said he was the troublemaker.  His father left his mother with all the kids and no way to support them.  They moved in with her bachelor brother.  He never wanted seven kids.  But he was a good brother.  To a point anyway.  He and Paul didn’t get along.  He got kicked out of the house when he was fourteen.  I think that’s when he moved to this area.  He got married, had a daughter, and got divorced.  He said they were High School sweethearts and they grew up, and apart.

My heart is broken.

He was in a lot of physical pain.  He had back problems all of his life.  His spine was a mess.  He recently “jumped through” all the government hoops and got his SSI.  Finally he had a bit of money to spend.  Finally a little break.  He deserved many more of them.  Many.  Things were looking up. His brother didn’t have to help him pay his rent.  He hated that he needed the help.

My heart is broken.

I can’t sleep tonight.  I can’t stop thinking about all the time we shared. Some of it kind of weird.  One time I had to harass him into going to the emergency room because he had prostate problems and had to pee every two minutes.  He wasn’t embarrassed nor was I.  Our friendship was above all that.

My heart is broken.

My husband had to rush him to the hospital when he was in septic shock caused by a hole in his colon.  He was in pretty bad shape.  The doctors said he was lucky to be alive.  They performed surgery the next day.  But he was never quite the same.  He said it felt like they didn’t put everything back in right.

My heart is broken.

We had one other thing in common.  We each have our own chronic disease.  Alcoholism, his, bipolar disorder, mine.  I think that really might be why we became fast friends.  Although we didn’t know it at the time. We both knew what it is to suffer terrible pain.

I heard the paramedics take him down the stairs.  I thought it was just one of my neighbors who makes a lot of noise coming down.  I had no idea they were taking my best friend to the morgue.

And my heart is broken yet once again, just thinking about him.  He isn’t in pain anymore, but I sure am.  Lots of it.

And I can’t share that pain with my best friend.

My heart breaks once again over that.