When Friendship Ends?
Friendship can end for many difficult reasons -- disagreements, living far apart geographically, or even just lives going in different directions. Death is the most hurtful ending though. Since my best friend, Tim, passed, I’ve taken time to reflect, grieve, and celebrate our friendship.
Tim Murray and I met as young boys who loved baseball. We played together on Little League teams, collegiate teams, traveling teams, and men’s league teams. Baseball brought us together and kept us inseparable for many years. Every win and loss strengthened our bond. We became more than teammates; we became best friends.
As children and young men, our personalities differed. Tim was funny, adventurous, and aggressive. I was less aggressive, quiet, and not nearly as funny. He was great to be around and left me many times better for trying to be like him. I’d say we had our share of good times together and maybe sometimes too much fun.
Throughout adulthood, we lived far apart but always gravitated back to each other eventually. After Tim’s passing, I tried to figure out how that happened. It’s rare when childhood friends separate, they reconnect. We always seemed to be able to meet up again and continue where we left off.
Life threw Tim more curve balls than most people face. He and his wife lost a three-year-old son to leukemia. Through the grief and hardship, he continued to work hard and built a long, successful career with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. He raised two other sons, Matt and Joel, who are now married and caring for their own families.
Then, came the bout with colon cancer. In Tim fashion, he recovered quickly and got back out on the golf course. I visited him shortly after recovery. We took our dads to spring training games and reminisced about the “old days” on the ballfield. Tim played shortstop while I played second baseman - the double play combination. We just played well together, always trusting each other to be where needed. Off the field, it wasn’t exactly like that. We sometimes drifted apart and lost track of each other. We always reconnected though.
Tim once again battled health issues in his final years. He suffered a couple of strokes, lost some vision, and struggled with balance. I flew to Florida to visit and help him through the rehabilitation process. One day we drove to the beach and sat quietly while looking out over the water. I felt we were both going through the memories silently recalling all that we had been through together, good times and bad.
I went back home three days later and would call every couple of days or so to check on him. We also texted often. I texted him one last time, and I told him “get better, buddy. You’re a fighter.” And his text back to me was “6-4-3,” which in baseball terms meant a double play, shortstop to the second baseman to first base. That was our position in baseball and in life. Sometimes it was 6-4-3, sometimes it was 4-6-3, but we always did that together. His text answer was so appropriate.
Tim died on March 13, 2019. Our lifetime friendship ended. Gone. A lifetime.
On our way to his Celebration of Life, I sat quietly. I was going to give a eulogy for my best friend, and I had never given a eulogy for anyone. I told myself I was going to do this right and the way that Tim would have liked. I cried when I wrote it, but I wasn’t going to do that at the Celebration of Life. Tim wouldn’t want me to cry.
I delivered a speech from my heart, one that will be etched in my mind forever. The words were mine, they described Tim the best way I knew how.
Here is how my speech ended. I pray that he heard it.
“Yes, if there is baseball in heaven, and Lord I hope there is, my prayer is this, that you let us play one more 9 inning game together, 3-2 score, we are leading in the bottom of the ninth, the other team has the bases loaded, and there is only 1 out. Please let the last batter hit one to short because I know we will turn it, yes, 6-4-3.”
Tim, hold the infield down until I get there because I hope there is baseball in heaven. Even when friendship ends in the physical sense when someone passes away, it really doesn’t end. It never ends. People say, “You just move on from that.” I say no, you don’t move on, you remember. Every day. The things we went through, the things we did together, the good times and the bad will always be there. You own those things forever.
Here’s to you, Tim. Our friendship never ends.
For me, it never will.