I’ve had the privilege of walking alongside Joe for many years. University educated, pleasant and well-mannered, Joe hit some hard times, and has never really recovered. We have walked through some difficult times; in and out of jail, in and out of detox and rehab, in and out of the hospital when his girlfriend got sick, present with him when his girlfriend committed suicide, and the grief that ensued for many years following. I was even a ‘trustee’ of his girlfriend’s ashes for some months afterwards.
We hadn’t touched base for a while, and when he came to see me at the drop in this past week, he greeted me with an ‘uncomfortable-to-me’ wet kiss on my cheek. We sat and talked for some time, catching up on news and how he was doing. Two more wet kisses and he walked me to my car in the rain. He leaned over for yet another cheek kiss and I had to bring the kissing thing to a halt. “Thanks, enough of those kisses”, I said.
His immediate reply, “You’re not my best friend, but I love you” disarmed me, and I realized that that there was really no-one else who had the same kind of relationship and friendship that he held is such high esteem.
Maybe too, it takes a big sloppy kiss on the cheek to realize just how much you mean to someone.