Friday, January 23, 2009

So long, Guy...

Guy Bentley Meeker (1945 - 2008)

Guy died on December 20, 2008 - he was only 63.

About an hour before he passed away, Lyn, his former wife, sent me an e-mail to ask me where I could be reached by phone so I could say 'good-bye' to my dying friend. As I was not online, I could not read the message immediately.

I had Guy's number, so I tried to call him at the hospital, heart pounding, hands trembling, absolutely devastated, and not knowing what I would say to him while the phone was ringing.

After a little while somebody answered; it was not Guy but Melissa, his daughter, who told me that her dad had died about 45 minutes earlier.

At that moment I knew what I would have told Guy.

I would have said to him: "Gayo, I love you very much - don't worry, my good friend, you will have a safe trip."

Guy was one of my very best friends, and I have not even a handful of true friends.

Ours was a solid friendship that did not require any rituals to keep it alive. Before the advent of the internet we hardly wrote to each other, and later, our e-mail correspondence was not very intense either. Sometimes we would not see each other in years, not even use the convenience of a telephone - yet, we always knew where we were.

Guy and angelical Melissa, Nassau (1974)

I met Guy in the Bahamas in April 1974, on a dive boat. He was with his family: Lyn, Bentley, and Melissa ('Missy'). We immediately became friends; the kids were great little people, and I got to love them very much - I am sure they must have sensed that at 33 I felt like having children of my own.

Guy with cute little Bentley, Nassau (1974)

Bentley, who was seven at that time, once told me: "Wolfer, you are such a nice man with kids, you would make a great father." Tiny Bentley was already then an outgoing and talented communicator.

Those were the 'glorious' seventies as Guy would say - he absolutely loved them, and when we would later talk about our good old days in the Bahamas, his eyes would nostalgically gleam...

Guy and I were both boyish looking, cigarette smoking, long-haired international bankers in Nassau - we had nothing in common with the contemporary breed of investment bankers. Making tons of money was not our raison d'etre. Our generation had other values.

We did some syndicated off-shore loan business together, but it was the human bond that was so much more important to us. We would seldom talk shop but discuss the essential things young men, married or not, normally talk about....

I spent almost every evening at the Meekers; they all received me as family, and to this day they consider me a close friend. So much so that Melissa and Bentley invited me to join them and Lyn at a family memorial service for Guy to be held in Nassau in February. Next to Paradise Island they will return Guy to the sea where we both dived for the first time together almost 35 years ago.

What I admired most about Guy was that he never, ever spoke bad about anyone. If Guy did not like someone, he wouldn't say anything about that person. In that respect he was very much like my son Felix - both great souls one finds rarely in a world of envy and malevolence.

Guy: I am infinitely sad, and as I write this, a little over one month after your death, I simply cannot imagine you not being at the other end of the phone, asking me: "Hola, chico, what's up?". But since there were so many periods of time during which we had no immediate contact with each other, I consider the time that will separate us now as but a brief interim.

Well, then I guess I shouldn't be really depressed, should I? You are not really gone; you are just leading the way, and in doing so you have an edge over those you left behind for the time being.

So long, my good, good friend. I love you. Soon we will be together again, and then we will have an eternity to discuss, roguishly smiling, all the essential things old men normally talk about....

No comments: