A Few Words

I woke up this morning and started my daily routine. Woke up the kids, took out the dog, got breakfast ready, etc. As I brushed my teeth, I was thinking about the day and what I had going on. There were meetings at work, the Apple conference was at noon (Daddy needs a new MacBook Pro), the boys’ best friend Fernando is celebrating his 10th birthday, and I had a package that was supposed to be delivered today.

The day went on. I got to work, started up my computer, and went about my business. Then, around 10am, a text came in from Dave to Moe and I.

“Three years, guys. Still sucks. How are you guys holding up?”

Shit.

God dammit.

God.

Damn.

It.

Lots of thoughts went through my head at that moment. The pang of grief, obviously, that I’ve grown far too familiar with. But also guilt. I had been awake for three hours on the anniversary of the day that Hilden died, and it hadn’t even crossed my mind. What kind of an asshole am I? How could that not have been the first thought I had when I opened my eyes this morning? Why did it take a text from Dave to remind me?

I’ve been pondering this for the past eight hours now and have some thoughts. The first of which is that I love Hilden now more than ever. I think about him every single day and miss him terribly. And there is still a giant void in my life now that he’s gone.

But my grief and my perspective have both shifted considerably in the past three years. And no, those three years haven’t gone by quickly. It doesn’t feel like “just yesterday”. Honestly, it seems like forever ago that we laughed with him, drank with him, worked on projects with him, and created lifelong memories with him. But in the time since his passing, I’ve learned so much. In the devastating wake of Hilden’s death, I also managed to gain some very important things in my life that probably wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

We all knew that Hilden was an incredible human being. But people like him tend to come from incredible families. His Mom, Lila, joked to me recently that Hilden would be so surprised that we spend so much time together now. Hilden’s parents are regulars at family functions, parties, and holiday celebrations and have become two immensely important figures in the lives of not just Moe and I, but my family as well. They’re practically a third set of grandparents to my kids.

And then there’s Dave. The first time I saw Dave was when he gave his eulogy for Hilden, just before I gave mine. It was one of the worst days of both of our lives, and I’m sure we both were in a complete fog, neither of us thinking, “Hey! We should buddy up!” Yet, here we are, three years later, and Dave is someone I consider to be a great friend and an important person in my life. Doing the podcast with Dave is a natural fit and I’m so glad to have his thoughtful and sunny personality there to counter the cynicism that comes from Moe and me.

Moe. Moe has always been someone I look up to with admiration and respect. He’s truly the most brilliant and generous person I know. His persona on the podcast doesn’t always showcase how kind and caring he is, and I’m sorry to destroy the mystique. I’ve always loved Moe. But our shared tragedy has brought us closer together. He is family. My kids love him, my wife loves him, and the loss of Hilden really opened my eyes to how important he is to me.

And I guess that’s the final point I’d like to make: perspective. I always knew that his diabetes could take Hilden away from us. In fact, about sixteen years ago, an acquaintance of mine died in her sleep at a very young age due to complications from diabetes. Me, being young and ignorant, had no idea that was even possible and I freaked out. Hilden was living in Wisconsin, and I sat down and wrote him a letter, professing my love and appreciation for him. I wanted him to know. Just in case. He wrote back, obviously surprised, but still appreciative.

But even then, over time, I lost perspective. I took life for granted. I took him for granted. I’d get irritated with him over petty nonsense. I’d expect him to pick up the slack for me when we worked on projects together. I’d give him shit for slight grievances. Him dying was a wake up for me. And I remind myself every day not to ever take the ones I love for granted again and to have perspective.

So no, Hilden wasn’t the first thing I thought of this morning. Or the second. Or the third. And that’s okay. He still teaches me lessons every single day. And I’ll always – ALWAYS – love him.

Okay, so that was more than “a few words”. Sorry for the false advertising.

Thanks everybody. Truly. Thank you for all the support and love you’ve given us. And thanks for remembering our friend.

John

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