I’m not good at giving speeches, never have been and probably never will be. Maybe it’s because I don’t like the limelight and prefer to remain in the shadows. Maybe it’s because I just don’t have that much to say or that I don’t like the sound of my own voice…

A very dear friend of mine is packing his bags and leaving the friendly confines of Ohio for the sunny skies of Arizona in the next week or so. He had told me about his plans a little over a year ago and it was just one of those thoughts that you put on the back burner until the days grow short and the flame gets hotter. Time is funny that way. It’s been described in more ways than I could possibly count and for me to try and do it again in a way that pertains to me would do it an injustice. Suffice to say that in a world of plenty, there’s just not enough of it.

This Saturday, there’s a party scheduled at our local watering hole to bid him and his wife farewell and to wish them luck on their journey. The kegs will be flowing freely and I’m sure there will be some tears scattered amongst the laughter. They’ll be stories to be told and the raucous atmosphere I’m anticipating will be fun I’m sure. I just can’t see it taking the place of the quiet time when only three or four of us hunched over our drinks and settled our worlds with each other and the bartender. Most of us have little or no family in town and we’ve kind of formed one of our own. It ain’t perfect but it’s all we got.

Anyways, I’m sure at some point in the proceedings there’s gonna be some speeches made. I’ll probably make one up off the top of my head but when all is quiet and we have a moment to ourselves, I’m gonna hand him a note. Here’s what it’s gonna say…

With apologies in advance to Robert Frost….

Over the past couple of days, I’ve pondered long and hard into the night over what to get you as a sort of gift that would be best suited to serve as going away present. Would it be something to put on your mantle or in your book case? Would it be some kind of keepsake that will serve to remind you of the time spent in Ohio or some type of gag gift to mark your arrival Arizona? Would it be an article or trinket that you could carry with you and maybe look back upon when the nights grow long and, at least for the time being, you feel as if you’re surrounded by strangers? Do we get together and share one last meal and tell our stories to each other one last time? Would we take any comfort in that?

No, I decide to leave you with a piece of where our friendship began. With words that are written from the heart and from the soul. Where the kindness doesn’t fade and the memories are kept locked away much like you would keep money in the bank, to be withdrawn on an as needed basis.

If it were up to me, I think the word friendship is tossed around too loosely these days and I don’t use the word too lightly. Many are made too quickly and broken too easily. A really good friendship takes the effort of time and in our rush to make it through the world, I think sometimes that sentiment is forgotten. We have shared time my friend.

When I think of your leaving I sometimes liken it to a chapter in book, with each new one telling another story or building upon the old. The problem with that little analogy, like it or not, is that books come to end whereas friendships, if they are true, do not.

No. I’d more liken a friendship to the twists and turns that the road takes. Unlike Mr. Frost’s road that diverges into two separate paths, I feel compelled to say that while our roads are getting ready to diverge, at some point, they will once again converge. Of this, I am sure. Whether the convergence takes place at another time or some other point doesn’t really matter. Rest assured, it will happen. We’ve shared too much along the way for it not to.

So I leave you with this my friend, we’ve shared our good times and we’ve shared our bad. We’ve tilted many a glass and sat at many at table. We’ve whiled away the hours, more than I can count and although I wish there were more to be had, our time has come. We’ve argued our differences and shared our commonalities. Those two things together should make us stronger. So, in the future, if, in the back of your head, you think you hear the clink of glasses being raised and it whispers in your ear, know that it is me raising a toast and recalling with sincere fondness the time that we’ve been lucky enough to spend together and I shall do the same. I think we’re both better off that way. We each in our own way will strive for greatness for it is on our nature to do so and there is a certain honor in that. Should we fail in our attempt, hopefully we can take some solace in knowing that at least we tried. Godspeed to you and yours as you embark on a new journey. One that I hope takes you far beyond anything you ever expected. Simply, your friend, your brother, Bob
The stool to my right is gonna look awfully empty for a long, long time…