4/12/09

Rivendell awaits.


My best friend died yesterday.

I type those words, and I simply cannot believe they're true. Even though I stood in a room at the hospital for hours, his body on a gurney three feet in front of me, it still doesn't seem real. I feel like I could pick up the phone right now and call him, and in 15 minutes we'd be drinking coffee together and talking about our latest shop projects -- his of forged steel and mine of wood. He was a swordsmith, and his swords were functional works of art -- my lacquered wooden scabbards simply trying to keep up. I know he probably could have found a professional to make them, but he wanted them to be ours. That he is no longer in this world, and no longer in my life is inconceivable to me.

I'm not sure how you sum up in a few paragraphs a friendship that spanned 33 years. It's just not possible. When you meet by chance in 7th grade, you are friends of circumstance more than anything else. Something as simple as seating students in alphabetic order, picking the teams in gym class, or even the random assignment of adjoining lockers can determine who your friends are in high school. If you are lucky, at least one friendship will take root and last throughout your high school years, and you will have someone who can join you in a united front against your own burgeoning adolescence. You have each other's backs, and somehow you make sense of it together. That single friendship can shape you in your formative years, and to a large extent it can determine the kind of person you will become.

For that friendship of circumstance to take hold, blossom and then strengthen over the course of three decades is a rare thing indeed, and I know how lucky I am. It's a true gift, and one that I will never take for granted.

A friendship like that is one of firsts -- first girlfriends, first cars, first breakups, first jobs and first marriages. We were there for each other through all of those things, and many, many more. We were closer than brothers, and I truly couldn't have asked for a better friend. He had the heart and soul of a warrior, and a fierce loyalty to those he loved.

At a little after 7:00 am Saturday morning, he responded to an e-mail I had sent him the night before, referencing a Bill Whittle essay. We were supposed to get together for coffee later that morning, as we had on countless weekends past. He had picked out a particular quote from the essay and sent it back to me. The quote was this:

"From this transformational experience I learned something new and re-learned something old: first, a dream becomes a goal once you make a viable plan and stick to it, and second, the single most important thing you do in life is choose your friends."

Two hours later, he was gone. I didn't get his e-mail until later that morning, after it was too late to reply. Too late to tell him what a great friend he was, and how much he meant to me. Too late to say goodbye.

He had so much left to do. We had so much left to do together.

I will miss him every day for the rest of my life.

I'm going to take a break for a while. I'll see you guys on the flip side.

195 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:14 PM

    so very sorry...

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  2. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  3. You've endured too many losses...I hope that happy memories help ease your pain and sadness.

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  4. I think often, in circumstances like this, "I'm sorry" can seem pretty empty, especially coming from a total stranger. Yet I'm compelled to offer my condolences, as a total stranger, because the thought of losing my best friend seems inconceivable to me. I am truly sorry for your loss.

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  5. I'm so sorry. I recently lost someone I loved very much. I just read an email from someone who shared a similar loss that "The hole will always be there but the edges become less sharp." I find that encouraging and I hope that soon you will too.

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  6. I'm so sorry JV.

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  7. I'm so sorry that you've lost a dear friend.

    (I hope you're not offended, or think it's rude, for a stranger like to leave a note.)

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  8. Your pain is palpable through your words. I hope your memories will sustain you during this difficult time. I am so very sorry.

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  9. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I hope your memories of your time with him help you through your grief.

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  10. I may be a complete stranger, but I feel your loss and your grief and I am very, very sorry.

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  11. 15, I am so sorry you lost your friend. I am sure, like my oldest friend, you feel as if they are more than just another person to share this road, but a part of your soul. Rivendell, will be there when you get there. It will just be easier because he'll be there to welcome you with open arms, a mug of ale, and the warmth only soul friends can bring.

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  12. carolyn9:20 PM

    You are having a really, really hard time of it tight now aren't you? I'm so sorry you have to go through this. Words don't help except to let you know that there are people out there that care that you are hurting. Take all the time you need, we'll be here when you are ready to come back.

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  13. Johnny, you've brought us many happy tears of joy and now I join you in tears of sorrow. No words of wisdom or comfort here 'cause I can't think of any right now after just reading your post. That quote your buddy shared with you is awesome; you two were obviously the BEST of friends. Heal well, Johnny, and take all the time you want. We'll still be here.

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  14. I am very sorry for the loss of this person in the world and in your life. The loss is forever, although the grief is not. Right now take the time you need; we'll still be here.

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  15. I'm so sorry...I can't imagine what it's like to lost your best friend. My thoughts are you with.

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  16. I'm so, so sorry JV.

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  17. I'm sorry for your loss. May the fond memories of your friend help you heal and keep him alive in your heart.

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  18. So sorry for your loss. There are no words that can make it better so just know there are many people whose thoughts are with you.

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  19. JV, please accept my deepest sympathy at this very difficult time in your life.

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  20. I am so very sorry for your loss.

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  21. Typing through tears, all I can say is how very sorry I am.

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  22. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. A very good friend of mine also passed away this week, and I greatly sympathize with your loss. You've written a very moving tribute that honored a wonderful friendship. May strength and peace be with you.

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  23. Anonymous10:12 PM

    I'm very sorry for your loss. I know these must have been a couple of tough weeks for you. I just want you to know I'm praying for you.

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  24. We may never meet you, but you touch us when your words make us laugh, and when they make us cry. I hope our words here will help you feel our sympathies and care for you in this rough, tough, horrible time you are now experiencing.

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  25. I'm so very sorry. He looked like a person with stories left to tell.

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  26. I don't even know you but you make me laugh and you make me cry...

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  27. I'm just another stranger who has read your blog and laughed out loud so many times. I'm crying now at the pain that you've gone through in he past month. I lost my brother last November in a motorcycle accident, then my beloved 18 year old cat on New Years Day. Memories help, and time will heal, but never soon enough.

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  28. I'm really sorry to hear about this, Johnny. That's just awful & I can tell how much you must be hurting. Take all of the time that you need & we'll be here when you are able to post again.

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  29. I'm so very sorry for your loss ~ my heart goes out to you and his family ~

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  30. I am so sorry for your loss. Hold on to those memories of your dear friend!

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  31. I am stunned and thinking about my best friend. I think I am going to call and tell her I love her.

    Hugs to you and I am so very very sorry.

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  32. All I can say is that I am so very sorry. My thoughts will be with you, along with everyone else whose life you have touched with your stories.

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  33. My condolences, and as many virtual hugs as you need. This must be very hard, coming as it does on top of the loss of your cat.

    I have never had a friend for that long. It must be like losing a sibling. I'm so sorry.

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  34. Nothing makes me angrier than when good friends and animals die. it pisses me off because so many shitty people are alive and my friends aren't. Take a break, but don't let it get too dark; sometimes it's hard to find your way back. And don't shut out the love that you have still shining in your life.

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  35. I can't imagine the loss, I'm very sorry.

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  36. Oh maaaan Johnny.

    Wickedly horrible things, too close together. Both with different breadth and depth, but both devastating.

    I cannot tell you how sorry I am for all the anguish, and intense pain you are going through.

    What a wonderful gift he gave you with the Bill Whittle reference!

    Rest up, tend to your soul.

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  37. I am very sorry for your loss.

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  38. I cannot at this moment comprehend what you are going through right now. Nor can I convey properly how deeply sorry I am for your loss. /comfort

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  39. I am so very sorry to hear of your friend. Sending all my best to you and yours...

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  40. Johnny, I'm so very sorry.

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  41. This is my first time to your blog and though I am a stranger I feel your pain and sadness. I'm so very sorry for your lose. You've had a truly rough time of it. My heart goes out to you for your friend and for your JD. I hope your memories can bring you some comfort.

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  42. Mitesh6:39 AM

    May God give you strength to endure the loss

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  43. You take good care of those blades and sheaths you both made JV. Even in years past when you've healed from it all you can look back on those works or art and remember him. As an artist he put his soul into each piece he crafted, take comfort in knowing you still have a piece to cherish. My condolences Johnny. Over the years you've done this more than any man should have to, yet I know you will heal and make it through, if for no one but him.

    May the road rise to meet you.
    May the wind always be at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face.
    May the rains fall soft upon your fields.
    And until we meet again may the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand.

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  44. My heart aches for your loss.

    I have never had the honor of a friendship that you possessed. You are truly a lucky and blessed man to have someone so special in your life.

    God bless you, your friends and family as you go through this trying time.

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  45. Anonymous8:31 AM

    I can't even begin to imagine your pain. I send my thoughts and prayers to you and yours.

    Hug,
    ~ FC

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  46. I am so terribly sorry for your loss and it sounds like everyone else's as well.

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  47. Dude. First JD, now this. I am so very sorry. You'll be in my prayers.

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  48. sending you warm thoughts...I am so sorry for the loss of your dear friend right after the loss of JD.
    Taek your time...we'll be here when you get back.

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  49. Wow... Words escape me here. Take your time - my heart goes out to you.

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  50. Cheryl S.9:22 AM

    I'm so sorry. . .

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  51. Oh man. I am so sorry. You've had WAY too much to deal with these past few months. SO not fair. I'll be thinking of you and your friend and his family.

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  52. With sympathies and prayers.

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  53. What is more profound than your thoughts about the ones you've loved and lost is the fact you are able to tell these stories at all. That you seem to live the addage of never having true happiness without true sorrow. We should be broken when we lose people we love. If we love them the best we can, the loss should feel like pieces of us have gone with them.

    You don't know me, but I haven't missed a blog entry since 2007. You're inspirational as a fellow writer, and as a human, in your fearlessness.

    From your tribute, it sounds like the world has lost one cool guy. I hope you, and all the people he's touched, find peace.

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  54. Anonymous10:10 AM

    I'm so sorry for your loss, JV. I've worked a great deal with people who are mourning losses, but still don't have the words I'd like to have to ease your pain. I know a lot of us out here care a lot about you -whether we've really met face-t0-face or not. You're a good guy with a lot of wisdom, experience, and communication skills. Not to sound all clinical, but I think these gifts will help you - if you use them.

    I lost my sister when I was 19 and then went back to college (it happened Xmas Eve) and didn't talk to a single soul about it. As a result, my pain kind of festered and turned into "complicated grief" (to use a jargon term), which kind of took a big bite out of my life for years. I trust from you posts that you are much smarter than me and will have the courage and trust in people who love you to share your pain.

    I don't mean to sound preachy. I feel terrible for you and hope you digest this thing well. I'm sure that one day your friend's legacy of good memories and how much he enriched the world will eclipse the fact/circumstances of his death.

    I'm not a big religious person (agnostic) but I'll pray for you to come to peace with this.

    Dave

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  55. My deepest sympathies to you.

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  56. I'm another complete stranger, but it does feel like you have let so many of us into your life with your great stories. I hope you take some comfort that so many on the internets are thinking of you, though we don't know you personally.

    I'm sorry for your loss, especially because he was such a close friend and it was so sudden.

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  57. I've been a reader for a while, I'm so sorry for this horrible loss.

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  58. I've been a lurker for a while. Your loss has brought me out of hiding.

    I'm very sorry to hear of the loss of your dear friend. May knowing him and making great memories console you in some way.

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  59. I'm so sorry. Big hugs and wishes of peace.

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  60. No words other than...I'm sorry...

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  61. I could feel the pain as I read about your loss. I know sorry doesn't cut it but I am sorry. I hope that some of our condolences help ease your pain.

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  62. Upstate Broad2:16 PM

    JV, I hope there can be some comfort for you in the knowledge of how many people have you in their thoughts and prayers. Your lovely wife has always come across in your writing as someone truly special, and I know she'll be helping you through this in a way that we all wish we could. Hold on tight to each other.

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  63. My deepest sympaties and much love to you for having to deal with so much loss in your life.

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  64. I'm so sorry for your loss. Losing a friend always sucks because a friend is someone you choose to love and have on your life. We never think about losing our friends and it always takes us by surprise.

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  65. Oh my gosh. First your beloved cat and now your best friend. I cannot fathom the grief you are going through right now. I've been friends with my best friend since I was in 4th grade, which is about 20 years or so and I cannot imagine losing her. Wow. I'll keep you in my prayers.

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  66. Roachmon3:01 PM

    So very sorry for your loss...I've been there and it's not easy...I hope you find Peace soon. Be Strong.

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  67. I think everybody who read this put themselves into your shoes and probably wept a little in the knowledge that - if we are lucky - we have our own devestating loss of this sort lurking in our future. My deepest condolonces on your loss. My deepest thanks for reminding me about the truly important things in life.

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  68. Anonymous3:15 PM

    my heart goes out to you, losing such treasured life companions so close together. so, so sorry...

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  69. I am sorry to read of such a profound loss.... and continue to be amazed by the way you can put life into words. Wishing you peace as you heal ...

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  70. We are all thinking of you. Take care of yourself.

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  71. My deepest condolences to you as well as everyone who loved your best friend. I'm so very sad for you all.

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  72. I am so, so sorry for your loss, JV. To lose such a great friend is a tragedy, but I think a greater tragedy would be to have never found him in the first place. God bless you.

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  73. I was already empathetically sad about your catpal, and then to lose another true friend is beyond the pale.
    Your pain will be in proportion to your friendship so I know it will be greatly felt.
    So sorry for your losses.

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  74. I am so very sorry. You've endured so much loss. May the memories of the love and times shared ease the pain of loss.

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  75. Maddie6:30 PM

    The words look flat and empty even as I type them, but I am so very sorry for your loss.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  76. I have that picture of you & the sword saved somewhere. He did fine work. So very sorry for your loss.

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  77. Anonymous8:23 PM

    I started reading your blog the day I started a new anti-depressant. Found it through the JC Penny thing. I started laughing and could not stop--until I started crying, and, again, could not stop. I wondered if I had finally found the magic pill or if I had truly met the best story teller I had read, maybe ever.

    I haven't missed a day of reading in nearly a year. You have the ability to redeem tragedy with stories. I think that's a divine gift. I bet your friend was healed more than once with your humor and sensitivity. Here's to your own healing.

    Thank you and my condolences.

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  78. Anonymous8:49 PM

    My condolences JV, we are all here with you in spirit.

    One of my favorite short stories was Stephen King's The Body, which recounted the adventures of youth.

    Later on as an adult, the main character was reflecting on that period in his life. It went something like this: 'looking back, I realized the best friends I ever had were from that time.'

    Jeff

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  79. So very, very sorry for your loss. Someone said to me once: Grief is the price we pay for love...

    And I'd like to think that though the grief doesn't last forever, the love does. So, though I don't know you but through your amazing blog (thank you), please take my deepest sympathies.

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  80. musicfan9:17 PM

    That someone who has brought so much joy and laughter to so very many people, just out of the pure goodness of his heart, would have to face such sadness and hurt pains me greatly. Although you do not know us, we feel like we know you and I know that if there was anything any one of us could do for you, we would without hesitation. Words, especially from strangers, can ring hollow at such a sad time, but know that all of us are saddened by the loss of your dear friend and wish that the memories of your friendship come to comfort you.

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  81. Anonymous9:20 PM

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I agree with others in thinking that 'I'm so sorry' from a stranger does little to ease the pain, though I know from my own experiences that that is not true - the kindness I have received from fellow bloggers overwhelms me daily. My thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

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  82. Please let us know if there is anything we can do, even from a distance. Seriously. Our prayers are with you and your family.

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  83. My sincerest sympathies during this difficult time, JV. God Bless...

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  84. It may be just me, but only one word has ever come to my mind in situations like these: un-fucking-believable.

    Sorrow, anger, melancholy; all that came later. For a long while all I could hear, all I could feel, was "un-fucking-believable."

    You have my deepest sympathies through this time. They say, "One joy shatters a hundred griefs." I hope yours comes soon.

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  85. I cannot imagine the loss of a friendship that has spanned so long. So sorry.

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  86. Leora2:02 AM

    You have given others so many moments of laughter and pleasure. I'm sure your friend was privleged and treasured your friendship as much as you have. I hope that with time you will find consolation in the memories of all the times you shared, good and bad

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  87. I'm so very sorry for your loss. I lost one of my dearest friends nine years ago and I know there are no words that can help ease the pain. But I wish you and yours, peace.

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  88. My deepest condolences on the loss of your friend. Take care.

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  89. Take good care of yourself. What a hard few months it's been eh? xox

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  90. Shit, man.

    I don't really know what to say other than I'm sorry. Really, truly sorry.

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  91. Death is not stronger than love. I'm sorry for your loss, Johnny.

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  92. Toffeemama11:41 AM

    I'm very sorry for your loss; he sounded like a very dear and true friend. If you don't mind, I'd like to keep you in my prayers.

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  93. I'm so very sorry for your loss.

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  94. Anonymous1:38 PM

    So sorry. Tracey

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  95. I'm so sorry...
    I lost my best friend in 2007 to the war in Iraq. I had known him since kindergarten, when we were just 5 years old, and a friendship like that is something that just can't be explained. Your post really touched me and I wish you strength at this time. Be glad that you had a friend like that, and know that he'll still be watching over you, and he's still there for you.

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  96. This sucks really bad. I'm sorry.

    Take care of yourself. Hurry back.

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  97. Please know that there are friends that care and somehow share in your loss.

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  98. I don't have any words that can possibly make you feel better other than "I'm so sorry." I can't pretend to know how you feel, but I can imagine how I might feel if I lost my best friend, and I'm so sorry for your pain.

    It must have made his life better to have had a friend like you, though.

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  99. Anonymous5:21 PM

    I am so sorry for your loss.

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  100. Anonymous6:15 PM

    I am so very sorry.

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  101. Calvin7:23 PM

    I'm just another one of the many strangers who frequents '15 Minute Lunch.' I've never commented, but felt compelled to do so upon reading of your loss.

    I've always looked forward to your next post, whether serious or funny. You truly have a gift in the art of storytelling and have made me smile or laugh too many times for me to recall.

    My condolences on your loss. Take the time that you need and know that we are thinking of you during this time.

    Peace.

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  102. I am so sorry.

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  103. My sincerest condolences. On March 6th I lost my husband, who I met in the 9th grade, to a sudden and massive heart attack. He was 35. To say I understand the shock and grief of losing someone that has been such a huge part of your life for as long as you can and the remorse of not being able to say good bye is an understatement.

    My thoughts are with you.

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  104. stacey9:33 PM

    Inadequate as it is, may I add my sincere condolences.

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  105. holy shit. so sorry - - there are no words.

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  106. You've expressed your love for your friend so beautifully. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  107. Siiri9:12 AM

    I'm just another stranger you've made laugh countless times... I'm so really sorry for your loss.

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  108. Anonymous9:33 AM

    I echo all the posts left before mine - I'm so very sorry to hear of your loss. I am a lurker who reads your blog weekly. You are such a gifted writer and your tribute to your friend was so moving.

    I will be calling my two best friends since forever and letting them know I love them.

    Robin

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  109. Anonymous9:53 AM

    I am so sorry for your loss. The words sound hollow but my deepest sympathy. My thought will be with you and those whose lives he touched.

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  110. This is heartbreaking. I'm so sorry for your incredible loss.

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  111. Anonymous12:51 PM

    so very sad to hear about your friend.

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  112. Anonymous1:40 PM

    I'm so very sorry for your loss. Hopefully you can "feel the love" of your fans and it will be a comfort to you.

    Peace, JV.

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  113. Anonymous2:17 PM

    I am so sorry for your loss. You will be in my thoughts.

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  114. so sorry for your loss....

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  115. Matt M4:45 PM

    Like you, I have lost a favorite cat this year. Also, like you, I have lost a friend, suddenly, and TOO SOON.

    I had a chance to hold the cat as she was passing on. For my friend it was another story. I got the call, as so many of us in the group did, telling me the shocking news. It just made me think of how I had been treating this friendship as something that had years to go, with so much good time left.

    With both my cat and my friend I find that I look around, expect to see them, but do not. In all of the old familiar places, where they used to be, they are no longer.

    This will fade with time, but I am in no hurry.

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  116. How very, very sad. I haven't looked at your blog in ages - haven't even clicked on the link in Bloglines and today I did.
    I'm so sad for you and for his family and for everyone who will miss him.

    I wish him and all of you peace.

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  117. Oh, Johnny, I am sorry you are having such a terrible run of it lately.

    I am yet another regular-reader-but-total-stranger, checking in from some 3000 miles away, and I know that random condolences start to blur together and offer little comfort. I hope, though, that time will ease your grief.

    I am a firm believer in the idea that it's our dearest friends, the people we choose to surround ourselves with, that make us who we are: in your case, I have no doubt that your friend was a factor in making you the smart, eloquent, frequently hilarious person you are today. How lucky, then, for you to have known him--and how lucky for us, your readers, that you did.

    We'll be here when you're ready. I wish you peace.

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  118. redraven6:23 PM

    Please accept my deepest condolences for the loss of your friend, your heart-brother, gone to walk the white road much too soon. You and he will meet again, but until that time, I wish you peace.

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  119. I've had my best friend for 32 years and we're only 34 years old. I can't imagine the loss you're going through. I'm so sorry.

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  120. JV,
    Like many of the readers who have posted, typing "I'm sorry" as a stranger seems so inadequate. But I AM sorry, and hope your memories will help. How lucky you both were to have shared such a friendship.

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  121. So very very sorry for you; two such great losses in such a short time.

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  122. I'm really sorry to hear about this. Your words do him justice - I hope you continue to write about him, to keep memories of him alive. Thanks for sharing your best friend with the rest of the world.

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  123. Wishing you all the best, even in these worst of times. Godspeed to your friends, both, human and feline. May you have many joyful times on the flip side with them. Just, hopefully, not to soon. My Condolences to you and yours.

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  124. Nancy3:05 AM

    I am so sorry for your losses.....sadly, I understand the pain you are going through as I lost my best friend (who I also met in 7th grade!) this past October and it still stings....but I remember the good times and have a good laugh and I know that we will meet again. Godspeed to those crossing the bridge and peace and love and light to you and those left behind.

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  125. Anonymous7:57 AM

    I am one of your readers who doesn't normally comment but I couldn't read without saying anything.

    I am so sorry for your loss and I know those words are inadequate but I offer them sincerely.

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  126. JV -
    I've followed your blog for a long time (almost four years now) and you followed mine for a time. I've changed internet identities and somewhat dropped off the face of the world but I still read your stuff. I know it won't mean much to say that I'm sorry - know that I am - but I just felt like I should say something.

    Your posts are always very well written. You tend towards humor but every now and again you write something so raw and powerful that it really hits me. This is one of those pieces. I can't really conceptualize the loss and pain you must be going through right now - young as I am and entirely without such a powerful relationship in my own life - but, when I do my best to, I think I feel only a fraction of the sadness you must.

    Thank you for sharing yourself with me and everyone over the years, and may you find some kind of tranquility soon. I'll be waiting.

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  127. I don't know you at all, except from your blog, which is so incredibly well-written and beautiful that I feel like I DO know you. And because of that, I feel your incredible sadness and I am so sorry for your loss. Know that you are loved by complete strangers and we care deeply about your broken heart.

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  128. I know there are no words that can really help, but my thoughts are with you this morning. I am so very, very sorry for your loss.

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  129. I'm am so sorry for your loss. I lost one of my very best friends twelve years ago and it was also quite sudden. I still miss talking to her and sharing things with her, but it does get easier with time. My philosophy teacher used to say, Every death leaves a hole in your life. The hole never goes away, but you do learn how to walk around it.

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  130. I truly believe friends are the family you choose. I have been fortunate enough to have a couple of very close friends as well, and can empathise. I am so very sorry for your loss.

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  131. Anonymous3:11 PM

    My husband and I want you to know that we are sorry for your loss. We look forward to the time that you will feel well enough to share a few humorous stories about you and your friend.

    Nancy in PA

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  132. I know that nothing I say can ease the ache you feel. But your courage to be so achingly transparent in your feelings makes me want to hold you in my heart. And so I shall. You were blessed and in turn you are a blessing.

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  133. I'm so sorry. Take care

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  134. I'm so sorry about your loss. Take care,
    Tobi

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  135. Anonymous10:08 PM

    My heart goes out to you. I have a friend that I've known, and been close to, since 2nd grade (we're now 40 so that's 32 years); I cannot imagine the pain of losing her.
    I'm so very sorry. You've had a really tough go of it these past weeks, no one deserves to have to endure so much so close together. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers.

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  136. Anonymous10:40 PM

    ((((( ))))) take care, I'm very sorry about your loss.

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  137. Johnny, I am so sorry.

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  138. Peace to you from a stranger who wishes you well.

    I read this blog regularly and I look forward to your stories. Come back when you can - I'll be here. Until then, take care.

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  139. Anonymous6:45 AM

    Really sorry JV. I know this is hardly the time, but i must say you are one the greatest writers I know and if your friend had anything to do with what you are, then we too, must miss him.

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  140. I am very sorry to hear about your friend. Take all the time you need. It's a tragedy to lose someone so young.

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  141. Anonymous10:03 AM

    Like everyone, sorry from a stranger seems so inadequate. But I have suffered similar losses and my heart breaks for you. Please know that I will say a special prayer for you and your friend. I am so sorry for your loss and the hole that you have in your life.

    shann

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  142. So sorry for your loss, which you wrote of so eloquently. And I had never heard of Bill Whittle so thank you for the introduction.

    In my prayers...

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  143. ArizonaDiane4:45 PM

    What a loss in your life - I am so sorry.

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  144. Sarah9:08 AM

    This post just breaks my heart. I am so sorry JV. I have laughed with you and I have cried with you. I can't imagine how it must feel to lose a best friend. You will remain in my thoughts.

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  145. Anonymous10:19 AM

    I'm so terribly sorry for the loss of your Best Friend.

    You have my deepest sympathy, Johnny.

    KMarie

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  146. my heart breaks for yours. there are no words, none.

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  147. Save the memories, live on for both of you.

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  148. I'm so sad for you. I am sorry <3

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  149. How lucky of you to have had such a good friend for so long. Just think of how happy you must have made him just by being his close friend.

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  150. That was a beautiful tribute, JV. He sounds like a remarkable person.

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  151. Anonymous11:14 AM

    I don't know how much an 'I'm so sorry' helps from a stranger hundreds of miles away, but I am really sorry for the loss of your dear friend. Especially after losing your wonderful fur son such a short time ago. I hope you can find some peace in the memories.

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  152. My deepest condolences for your loss. My heart goes out to you.

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  153. BBecause7:48 PM

    I heard about your blog from a friend in January 2009 and have been reading all the old ones first, but when I saw this one, I read, and wanted to cry. So sorry about your loss. It looks like many, many people are tuned into you. I hope all the responses help.

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  154. They do. Thanks, everyone.

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  155. Anonymous10:46 PM

    I don't think there could have been a better tribute to him. Eloquently stated.

    My Paul rest in peace.

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  156. Anonymous11:38 AM

    A couple of years ago I was searching for the origination of the JC Penney Catalog email that was going around (at least that's the first time I saw it)and was pleasently surprised to find your blog. I've read a lot of your stories and pop in from time to time for a good laugh - you've got the art of making people laugh with the simplest of things. I feel like I know you even though it's just a blog....I tell my husband and friends about your stories all the time. I haven't been able to stop thinking about your terrible loss since I read your post yesterday morning. I'm so very sorry for your loss. I lost my first child when she was 10 months old and believe me the pain will soften but you will not forget. The wonderful thing is that you have all the great memories and given the fact that you have a talent to tell a story so well maybe you should write a memoire about your times together. That may help ease your pain...remembering all the fun times and what a wonderful gift to share with his wife, kids and mutual friends that will keep his memory alive long after we are all gone. Love to you and God Bless. DL from Washington State

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  157. You're in our thoughts and prayers, Johnny. Thanks for sharing so transparently, whether you're moving us to laughter or tears.

    You have our deepest sympathy, and I pray you find some comfort in the presence of those who love you. It's strange how even with such a loss, you can also be touched by the things for which we are grateful. And in the case of your dear friend, it sounds as though there are many.

    Steve

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  158. Anonymous4:34 PM

    You must have so many wonderful memories that will keep him with you. He'll always be in your heart and therefore never forgotten. While you greive, take solace in knowing he is with you.

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  159. I too am a stranger but read your blog often. I am very sorry for your loss, words can not express. Many, many people are thinking of you right now.

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  160. sigh* I am sorry for your loss ...I hope you find peace with it soon.

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  161. Anonymous1:42 AM

    I am so sorry for your losses. Please take as much time as you need. My thoughts are with you.

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  162. I am so sorry for you loss. You are in my thoughts.

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  163. I'm sorry for your loss. At least you have many good memories left. Hopefully we'll hear some of them in later posts.

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  164. Hello JV,
    I have been away from your blog for a long while as my adult son has been hospitalized for the past seven weeks. So I have just found out about the loss of your dear friends, your beautiful cat and now your dearest friend. I wanted to express my deepest sympathies to you. At times like this, words cannot take away the pain and grief that you are feeling. I found a poem that I will send to you. I hope it may bring you some solace from the loss of these two best friends in your life.

    For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.
    ~John Greenleaf Whittier

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  165. I am so sorry.

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  166. I don't know you personally, but I came upon your blog from a blogger's friend blog list. And you have made me laugh and think and wonder. But having parents and friends die.....I know as sure as I'm writing this..your friend is still there.... and he is there for you always.

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  167. If only we knew how long we had left with those special people who touch our lives, but then again perhaps it's best that we don't. I can only liken this to my husbands sudden death almost 10 years ago at the age of 41. The shock was horrific. I needed tome out, for the numbness to die away. Slowly and very gradually, the sun did shine again and thise we loose are kept alive, by talking about them and remembering the joy they brought to our lives.
    I'm not sure whether you are reading all these comments or not, but I really hope you are. They will give you great comfort to face lfe again, see the love that surrounds you from friends you have never met, but appreciate you so much for the fun and laughter you bring to others. I really hope you decide to blog again. your absence is missed.
    With love, light and brightest blessings,
    from the UK.
    Sue xxx

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  168. Anonymous10:17 PM

    There will never be the perfect words to ease your pain but I hope you know how special Paul was in my life and how much you are loved....whole bunch.

    Thinking of Santanoni and a Hike.
    xoxo,
    Petunia

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  169. Anonymous10:19 PM

    Wow, what a gorgeous picture of your friend. I have pictures like that, in my mind, of loved ones I've lost, but not anything so purely lovely captured on paper. I'm glad you have that little treasured reminder of him for always.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  170. Lost my best friend last year. Breast Cancer. She was 32. I was in Depression for a while. I still miss her so much and I know how you are feeling right now.

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  171. oh my God

    i could just hug you for an hour.

    and not just to press my boobs against you secretly. because i want to comfort you.

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  172. rick lee10:06 PM

    Johnny; this is the first time I've commented, though I've been fascinated by your writing for a long time.
    My black cat, and best friend Jynx, was murdered by some neighborhood dogs twelve years ago, and I'm still pissed off. A year and a half ago an important family member was murdered by a psycho, and I doubt I will ever be whole again.
    My great grandfather was a sword-smith in Poland. I've studied metallurgy so I understand what an incredible undertaking it is to make a blade from raw iron. Your friend must have been amazingly intelligent. What a loss. Yet his art will survive, and be cherished long after all our passing. That's all anyone can really hope for. Stay strong.

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  173. Andrea10:15 AM

    What a shitty time you've had lately! Having two furkids of my own I couldn't even begin to imagine losing one. I started to write comments on a couple of occasions but couldn't come up with anything that didn't sound trite.

    I haven't come up with anything better to say for the latest rotten event, but I still felt as though I needed to say something. You have been so fortunate to experience a friendship like this. My 7th grade friendship petered out in my late twenties. It died a natural death so it wasn't as piercing a loss as what you are experiencing.

    I love your blog - you've brought countless smiles, laughter, and tears into my life. It's an amazing gift, really, to touch complete strangers through the written word. I only wish I could offer you some comfort that doesn't ring hollow. Time can be both an enemy and an ally, and I hope it treats you well in dealing with your loss.

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  174. I am so very sorry for your loss. Words can not convey my sorrow for you.

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  175. Oh my God.

    I am so so sorry.

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  176. I am so sorry for your loss. I'm sure he knew how much you loved him.

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  177. I'm sorry. I hope to see you again when you're ready. We'll be thinking about you.

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  178. Anonymous11:24 PM

    My husband lost his best friend of 30 years. They were first graders together, making little light sabers from their aluminum foil at lunchtime. They were teens together. He misses him every day and it's been 5 years. I'm really sorry for your loss.

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  179. Typing through tears, I am so very sorry for this loss, such a big loss, on the heels of having lost your sweet cat.
    Pearl

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  180. Come back.......we need you.

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  181. DoxieMon7:31 PM

    I am so sorry - I wish I could help. I really your blog but know you need time.

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  182. "From this transformational experience I learned something new and re-learned something old: first, a dream becomes a goal once you make a viable plan and stick to it, and second, the single most important thing you do in life is choose your friends."

    It's obvious you pick your friends well, as this quote has stayed with me ever since you posted it. I can only imagine how hard this is for you to go thru & I certainly understand you needing time away. Take all the time you need - we will be here waiting.

    =)

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  183. So sorry - not much comfort, I know. Lot of us are hurting for you.

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  184. Worried about you ~ how are you doing?
    {{{{hugs}}}}

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  185. This is my first time stopping by here, and it saddened me to see the hurt behind your eloquent words.

    I'm so sorry for your loss, and I hope that the many happy memories that you shared with him will help in the days, weeks and months to come.

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  186. Ouch. Great sadness. And, great fortune for having known such a friend.

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  187. Anonymous2:44 PM

    On February 16th, 1994, another helmet cutting test was performed on this Hineno style black lacquer helmet (dated 1573-1602) shown above. The swordsman was Obata Toshishiro, professional sword tester for the late swordsmith Kobayashi Yasuhiro. Using a blade forged in the ancient Japanese fashion by Paul Champagne, an American self-taught sword maker, Obata cut a gash measuring 13 centimeters (4 sun, 3 bu). This is a record length cut, made all the more impressive in that there wasn't a testing hilt on the sword, so nylon rope was wrapped around the tang to provide a grip for testing. http://www.shinkendo.com/kabuto.html

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  188. Anonymous2:48 PM

    Heartfelt memorial: http://www.thearma.org/Paul_Champagne.htm

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  189. very sorry to hear about this...haven't been by in a while but am glad i know what's going on with you again.

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