March 23, 2011 ~ 06:36pm
I originally had decided not to post this, but I now think it will be therapeutic to do so. Exactly 2 weeks ago, my good friend, who I've known for over 15 years, passed away after a 4 month battle with cancer. He was only 31 years old and had been married for less than 6 months.
While I was aware of his condition immediately after his diagnosis, I am still in shock of how rapidly everything happened. For whatever wishful reason I naively thought he had more time, and that I would have had at least one meaningful conversation with him. Sadly this was not the case.
I have always observed life threatening illnesses such as this from afar. Occurring to other people or distant relatives (usually much older). The reality of knowing someone so close both personally and in age, makes me more introspective on my own life (as if that were even possible). All these thoughts, memories and regrets flood my mind.
My biggest regret was that I never spoke to him when he was sick. I never told him that I had not forgotten about him and to let him know that he had all my support. I remembered him. I just hope that he heard me on a voice-mail I left for him or saw one of my messages. ... The only thing I am proud of in some small way, is that I did summon the courage to get up and talk at his funeral. Something I did not plan on doing.
Since he lived across the country, I did not see him often. To his credit, he always visited me when in town and I saw him a few times a year, which is more often than I see some people who live much closer. Being remembered is worth so much more than I can properly quantify. I really wish I had expressed that to him.
At the funeral when his family spoke, his brother's wife said something that stood out to me among all the sadness. She said little by little, each step in his life he pursued a small part of his dream. From engineering, to attending law school, to establishing himself to California and to finding his love and getting married. She encouraged everyone to find their dream - their love - to pursue it and once you have it: hold onto to it tightly. Such precious words from a broken heart. Words to live by.
Grief is a very personal thing. I can't imagine what his wife, siblings or parents are going through. For every word written here, I could speak a thousand more. I can recall the past 15 years quite vividly with all the ups and downs. I can appreciate the changes between us: career, life, relationships and everything else. For the handful of friends who I care about, there is now one less, and that change at the moment is quite difficult for me to accept. In time ...
(a big thank you to all my friends and family, especially my youngest brother)
Rest in peace my friend.
Aashish Kumar Garg
July 20, 1979 - March 9, 2011