Even if no one reads this, it will be therapeutic for me, though I am questioning whether or not I should post this. I am writing this after I realized I may have lost all my old correspondences which I saved between me and my closest friend I had, who has passed away. I deleted my Facebook account permanently and I didn’t realize until later that I probably lost our old messages. I thought I saved them all to my computer but can’t find them.
Hank was someone I met when I was in the military around 2002. He was visiting the base I was stationed at, as he was a director and photographer visiting from out of state and was there to direct and film several military commercials. I was working in the Public Affairs office at the base as a soldier. I was given the task of joining an officer in my unit to oversee their visit to our base and to accompany and assist them. I was also writing an article for our newspaper, as well as taking photos. I also recall interviewing him for that article.
Somehow, through my behind-the-scenes work, I was called one afternoon and told I needed to audition as well. I was nervous and probably a bit shy, but I did it and it went well. Hank was there giving me direction and telling me what to do and say. Some of the details are fuzzy as it was many years ago, but I do recall getting called back numerous times until I got to the final audition session. This was for a lead in the commercial, with a speaking role which was front and center. It was between me and another female, who had short hair – which is all I remember of her. Hank, the director, who I had not even met at that time, and his staff – ended up choosing the other girl for the part. Though I was a little bit secretly disappointed, I didn’t mind that much because I was in a small role in a different commercial of his. Also I just loved getting out of the office and having new experiences. I loved meeting people. I spent many long days watching Hank do his work through his directing.
At the end of the whole thing as it was wrapping up, I knew I had to meet him and talk to him personally as he was so kind and sincere. We had an instant connection. I also recall how he stood on top of this one ladder as things were wrapping up and he gave a bit of a speech to thank everyone for their help in making the commercials. He put his heart and soul into that talk with everyone. He was the most humble, bluntly honest, loving person I had ever come across. And, I had traveled extensively and lived in another country, even before the age of 18. I had met a lot of people. He was so very different in his approach with people and with life. He loved life more than anyone I had ever known. Somehow, Hank and I stayed in touch from that time on.
I’ve had a rough upbringing or childhood and no one would guess it if they met me. I seem to be fine and all that, but it has taken a toll when it comes to trusting others. I am careful with people I let into my life and I cherish those I do. Hank was a consistent, kind and caring friend. I could tell him anything and he could do the same. I was young and just figuring my own life out, around my early 20s. He was a couple of decades+ older than me. I think sometimes people are judgemental in these different scenarios. But, people are people. He was like family to me. He knew me better than most people in my actual family. He was consistently there for me and I tried to be there for him as well. Life took me all over the globe as I was such an adventurous person in my 20s – traveling all over the place, even as a single mom with a very young child. But, we always stayed connected.
He would confide in me about his dating and heartbreak and also stories of his beautiful daughters and his parents as well. He had a lot of health issues that he dealt with, during his entire adult life. His outlook was always cheerful and optimistic, when most people I know would be down and frustrated. His health issues worsened and deteriorated and he needed a triple organ transplant. Years before, I am thankful that he was able to visit and stay with my son and I. We had a memorable, beautiful weekend of talking, exploring and cooking. The man just radiated love to anyone who meant something to him and to strangers too. Years later when he became very sick, my son and I were able to fly out to California to visit with him and spend time with him in the hospital. I had never driven in Los Angeles before and it was daunting and a bit terrifying, but worth it to see him. I didn’t realize it would be the last time though. After his transplant, things went downhill rather quickly. He ended up passing away shortly thereafter from an infection related to it.
I was left with a little regret. Though I was more open with him than most people in my life, I realized after his death that I wished I was even more-so. I wished I could have been more like him. There were times we had together that I thought could have gone differently. To know he was gone, was just unfathomable. I still can’t comprehend it. “Where is he?” I think to myself as I sit here typing this. I believe in God and Heaven and I believe he is there. But, I still just cannot believe he is gone.
He was like an angel on earth and if you had met anyone else who knew him, they would tell you the same thing. His impact on others was far and wide. He left lifelong lasting impressions on people – from all walks of life, both men and women. If you read my first few sentences, I mentioned that I deleted my Facebook account. I was not thinking about how that was my only access to our old messages to each other. I remember saving them to my computer, but I can’t find them (I hope I will be able to eventually). I got upset in realizing I lost all those messages because they were important and dear to me. I also lost access to his old Facebook page, where some of my photos are on there with him. I used to post on there about how I missed him. Others are probably still posting there on his wall, to this day. Like I said, he had a profound, deep impact on others. And, he had guts. He lived as though every day was his last. He made me realize how short life is. He is a big part of why I am as blunt as I am today. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.
When he visited my son and I at our home, the second to last time I saw him, he taught me how to cook two dishes which he loved quite a lot. And, I still make one to this day, as it’s so good. It was fun spending time with him while we had the opportunity. Our friendship wasn’t boxed into some societal label to make it ok. It just was what it was. I miss him and think of him often.
I realize that this post might seem really far out there, compared to my other content. But, I used to express myself through writing a lot – from blogging to poetry. So, although this is all very personal, I just wanted to express it – whether anyone reads it or not. It may not seem like it, but it’s really hard for me to share this personal stuff on here. And, with my writing and thoughts – I know I am jumping all over the place but I wanted to share what I was thinking about this evening.
Overall, I hope that if you read this – it might inspire you to live life more fully. Life is fleeting and being blunt is actually quite fun and entertaining at times. I appreciate the bond I had with Hank and I think his personality really had a positive impact on me as a person. I learned how to be more genuine and honest with others, even though it’s not easy and can be uncomfortable at times. I think it’s a great way to live. If you’ve read this, thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day.
When I think of Hank and the way he lived life – He was raw, in the best kind of way. He was the most genuine person I’ve ever met.