Yesterday I logged into Facebook and saw a face I haven’t seen in years.
It took me by surprise because it was a face I haven’t seen since 1993.
It was the face of a dear friend of mine from college.
We took political science classes together, including a class called “sim-Con,” that was a simulated Congress.
We loved talking politics and journalism; Shakespeare and law.
I was a journalism major. He studied pre-law, determined to become an attorney.
After graduation, he and his wife moved to California where he went to law school; and I moved to Washington, D.C.
We kept in touch, calling each other occasionally. I visited he and his wife in California; and they visited me in D.C.
He was one of the friendliest people I ever knew. He seemed to know everybody, everywhere. And, if he didn’t, he introduced himself and quickly became best friends with strangers.
He had a big generous smile, an easy, unrestrained laugh, and so much drive and ambition.
He always seemed to become the teacher’s pet too. His charming personality won over everybody that knew him.
He was an achiever — he became an Eagle scout, served an LDS Church mission, graduated Cum Laude from law school, become a local political leader, a soccer and t-ball coach; was elected president of the Kiwanis Club and more.
He and his wife had five beautiful children.
Then, in the summer of 1993, I came home from a beach trip with my family.
I listened to the messages on our answering machine and found a message from a woman whose name I didn’t recognize.
Then she said she was calling for my friend’s wife to let me know my friend had died.
“He committed suicide,” she said. “We thought you should know.”
I was so stunned to hear that message that I replayed it about 10 times.
It seemed impossible.
He was not the type to commit suicide.
I never knew why he did it; and as far as I know no one else did either.
So when I saw his photo on Facebook it startled me.
It was posted by his family to wish him a happy birthday.
His family and friends wrote memories of him and how much they loved him.
Now I can’t get his face out of my mind.
My long lost friend.
He never gave any hint of being lost, sad or hopeless.
I will probably never know what drove him to commit suicide but I know what he was like when he lived.
He made a lasting impression on everyone.
Even still he is making an impression by his photo on Facebook.
I guess in the end that’s what we want — to live the kind of life that people remember, the kind of life that makes other people smile.
And it has to be okay to have some sadness rolled up in those memories because that reminds of how much they meant to us and how much we miss them.
Seeing my friend’s picture on Facebook this week reminded me of how much I still miss him.