My happiness at seeing an email from Cammy, a friend of many years, quickly turned to sadness when I saw that she was alerting me to the untimely and unexpected death of a mutual friend, Randy. I literally gasped out loud when I read the news.

Randy wasn’t much older than I am, and we were just joking around together on Facebook a couple of weeks earlier about the unseasonable, and to Randy’s mind, unreasonable, snow he was still getting where he lived in Chicago. I have noticed over the years as my expertise in the field of death has unfortunately grown* that people always say, “But I just saw him” as if that made the fact of their being gone forever impossible. It does make it more surreal and unbelievable.

When I wished him happy birthday at the end of March, I had no idea it would be his last, and from what he said, it doesn’t sound like he did, either: “Thanks for the birthday wishes. The best present would be for all to be around for many more. Let’s hope this craziness passes quickly and we can all celebrate together.”

I learned from his wife that Randy had died within ten days of being diagnosed with mesothelioma. Like my former brother-in-law, Mike, it seems that Randy died quickly (and hopefully peacefully) of something that can be a lingering and horrible, suffocating end. His family was with him and I hope he slipped away easily and without fear.

For those of us left behind, it’s hard to imagine that we will never again see those blazing blue, twinkling blue eyes, ask him for advice, hear his infectious laugh, or get one of his comforting hugs. Randy loved his family with all of his heart, and in our friendship, there was something fatherly as well.

I am lucky to have known and loved him, and to have had Randy touch my life. He will always be in my heart and my memories.

*People always unhelpfully inform me that you have to expect increasing visits from the Reaper as time goes on, but a) I’m not that old, still in my 50s; and 2) This Reaper bullshit started with me when I was 15. I lost all my grandparents within one year, and both of my grandfathers within three weeks. I was barely 16 when they were gone.

A YEAR AGO: I may have missed the Derby (gasp), but I did make it to a fabulous BBQ at Rio’s place.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A new Royal Princess, a new ‘do, and the Derby – what more could a girl want?

TEN YEARS AGO: Dad’s amazing Honey-Mustard Chicken. Try it, you’ll like it!

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Plumbing problems

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