I’ve had a handful of friends pass away in the past while, and one that is always and forever on my mind is Noel.
I never got over it. I never had closure. I still have a hard time believing that he’s gone.
It’s pretty difficult for me to talk about this kind of thing, even though technically I’m only writing it.
We met in college, and instantly formed a tight little crew that was always up for ruckus. Nothing but good times.
He was a unique, old soul. He idolized Dean Martin. He belted out Sinatra tunes. He could pull off a smoking jacket like nobody’s business. He always had a sarcastic remark on the tip of his tongue. He always made me smile. Always.
He loved his cheap ass Roger Moore 007 collector’s addition lighter. He handled that thing like it was a prized possession. I swiped it from him once. He never knew it was me at first, but eventually caught on since I used it constantly. I tried to make it up to him by replacing it with a Sean Connery 007 lighter, but to no avail.
I never returned that lighter.
A few years after school, a bunch of the crew went their separate ways. We planned a reunion around Christmas holiday, since everyone was back in town. Noel wrote a good friend an email expressing his excitement to see everyone. She still has the email.
He never showed.
After the holidays we all went back to our respective dwellings. I was living in Barbados at the time, my good friend was in Vancouver… etc etc. A few months passed and I received an alarming email forward.
One sentence, explaining that Noel had passed away, months ago. We were all in shock. None of us knew.
How could we not know? Why were we just finding out? What the hell happened?
I was so angry. It broke my heart. It was not an ideal way to find out a friend had died… months after the fact.
His exwife was the one who sent the message. Although there were many attempts to find out what happened to him, the truth never surfaced.
I still don’t know.
I’m confused as to what the big secret is, and I will never have closure until I know. Never.
I think about it all the time. My friend and I talk about it constantly, and try to use our pro-star investigative journalism skills, but always come up short.
A few years ago, I was in my mom’s hometown at her storage unit. I glanced at the top of a large pile of garbage, and saw the Roger Moore lighter sitting on top. I was shocked. I hadn’t seen that lighter in years. And there it was. Almost strategically placed on top of a pile of junk. I picked it up. I tried it. It still worked.
That lighter appears in the most bizarre places. Always. Still.
Two weeks ago I was on a cruise. As I was getting ready for bed, I opened my bag, and there it was. I don’t remember seeing it before I left Canada to move to Barbados. I don’t remember seeing it the entire time I was here. At all. I was groggy, smiled, and threw it back in the bag.
Today he popped into my head. I thought about old times. I wondered all the things I’ve wondered in the past. I opened up the bag, and pulled out the lighter.
The copyright date is 1999. His teeth marks are at the bottom. Parts of Roger Moore are faded. Some of the plastic is peeling off. The metal part is rusted.
I tried it.
It still works.
A smile graced my face.
I miss you Noel.
This one’s for you, buddy.