Twenty years ago, I dreamed of meeting one man that I could be friends with for the rest of my life…one man to laugh with, cry with….share my most intimate thoughts with.
He was given to me on a warm and sunny August day in 2005.
Walter came into my life quite by surprise, but hardly by accident. He sent me an e-mail at the radio station where I worked. It took no time at all for us to become friends and when we did, I found that I adored Walter.He was devilishly handsome, brilliant, crass but polished, opinionated, fearless, acerbic, openly gay and hilarious.
To me, he was Perfection.
He was also a tortured soul. As was I, when we met. One would think that two fractured people would just create a pile of emotional shards. But that wasn’t the case with us. We seemed to provide the bonding needed to keep each other together. I think it was laughter that served as the consummate adhesive. We became best friends.
My relationship with Walter was rather cloistered. Few people understood our connection. I’m not sure even we understood the degree of our closeness. That was fine with us; we preferred it that way. When other people listened to us speak, it was as if we were speaking Esperanto. We jokingly said we spoke “TarKen”….our own language which was interspersed with many expletives and the requisite “Filthy” and “Dirty”, all spoken in that feigned British accent we used.
Few “got us” and that was OK.W e held on to each other, only letting go only when the other stepped free, but even so, the bond was never broken.Nor can it be. We were content in knowing that we’d found each other. We were happy to have found a certain “punctuation” to the paragraph of our lives.
We just clicked…my cup to his saucer—mismatched, chipped and crazing down the center, but still beautiful, even in it’s damaged state. Perfectly flawed. .
Walter entered my life at a time I needed him most. He brought joy and laughter where there was none. He got me to start living again.
And did we live. He was fun…the best time I’ve ever had. He felt like home. Comfortable, safe and secure. Like a hug, accented with the aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, wrapped in a soft, familiar blanket.He never dismissed me or made me feel anything less than extraordinary.
He was never aloof, nor did he ever exist passively in my life. He was a willing participate–fully involved, concerned and more importantly, he was there when I needed him. We were good about being there for each other. Walter understood that Life is inconvenient. So is Love. Neither will ask for permission. Both can be obtrusive. He was never too busy for me, even when I was. H e was kind in the sense that he never decreed me as anything other than one of his very best friends. What an incredible honor!
We had our disagreements. They were legendary. And vicious!! Imagine a film recording of Joan Crawford telling off the board of Pepsico on a continuous loop that plays at painful decibels.We never stayed mad at each other….at least, not that long.
Ultimately with Walter, I always felt loved. Unconditionally so. I could be thin, pudgy, hair perfect or teased up to a dizzying Elsa Lancaster’s Bride of Frankenstein height. I could be sans make-up or with a full compliment and wearing something that fashion-wise, would’ve have been considered only luke-warm from five seasons earlier. That didn’t matter.
To Walter, I was always just Laurie. No pretense.
To me, he was always Walter. No pretense.
One night he asked me why I couldn’t have been born a gay man. On that particular day, I had to fire six members of my staff. I was crying in his arms. I was wearing this silk blouse with, pink feather scuffs. I looked up at him, mascara streaming down my face and said, “Take one look at me, Walter. Look at what I’m wearing then take a gander at my make-up! I have to ask you, what makes you so sure I’m not?”.
Our friendship was enduring and so incredibly special. W e had this idea that we’d grow old together. That we’d live long enough to comb gray hair, use our AARP discounts at dinner, complain about arthritis and those damn kids and their crazy music. We thought surely one day, I’d be Blanche to his Baby Jane. Aging wouldn’t matter as long as we could view the process through each other’s eyes. Together.
But the Universe had other plans. It gave me Walter, but the one thing it couldn’t give me was a relationship with him that could be measured in years. He was only in my life for a mere 23- months. That was all. Even though I have many brilliant memories that could rival the most dazzling, star-filled constellation, I must state that this is all so incredibly unfair.I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I’m still not. My first hello to him–seemingly uttered just yesterday– still resonates on my lips!!
I wanted more time. I needed more time…for one last look at his wonderfully handsome face; one more chance to absorb the warmth of his smile…to hear that wicked, wicked laugh; to read his soulful eyes; to feel the touch of his hand.
God, I sometimes question your existence and the pain I feel right now is representative of one of those occasions. But if you are real…if you do exist, then please give me strength.Help me fully understand this conundrum—that sometimes, people are put in our paths for special reasons. Is it because sometimes, it’s to force us to give of ourselves and sometimes it’s for us to receive? If so, then that means sadly, tragically, these beautiful, divine human gifts must also leave our lives for special reasons.
Why Walter left mine is something I’ll never, ever understand….but I know why he came into my life. And that was to save my life…and I’m a much wiser and richer woman for my all too brief experience with this angel.I n some ways, I’m alive…here today because of this man.I love Walter and always will.
His death cannot negate my feelings or the relationship I’ll continue to have with him. The love lives on because I do. And I live on because this precious man gave me a reason to do so.His friendship gave my life back to me.
And God knows I want him back in my life.
I’ve so much more to give.
“My bounty is as boundless as the sea. My love is deep. The more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite”.
Twenty years from now, I’ll dream of how I met that one man who I wanted to be friends with for the rest of my life…one man I laughed with, cried with…shared my most intimate thoughts with.
And I’ll remember how he was taken from me on a warm and rainy July day in 2007.