“It was an odd friendship, but the oddnesses of friendships are a frequent guarantee of their lasting texture.”
~Ford Madox Ford
First thing this morning, my heart was broken.
I was preparing to do my homework for a class, had barely started eating my cereal, when I checked my email and saw the message from my dear friend Ky's son, letting me know he passed away on Monday.
And thus began a day of tears.
I just saw Ky in January at our second DuPont Old Farts Club reunion. Sure, his hair was all white, but otherwise, to me he hadn't aged a bit since we first met in 1982. He was energetic, all smiles, so happy to be there and reconnect with the rest of us.
I never, ever suspected that would be the last time I saw him. Maybe some of the others. But not Ky.
After all, I've actually seen him two other times since we both hung up our hardhats, at the weddings of two of his seven sons.
He loved to talk about those sons and his wife on our long twelve-hour shifts. He would also tell stories about having to leave his home in China when the Communists took over, and then years later having to flee Viet Nam with his young family for the same reason. He told me he learned English from reading Reader's Digest magazines.
I loved his stories.
Ky never called me "Barbara". It was always "Barbie." And that was okay. I can hear him even now.
I don't remember how or when we became such good friends. It just happened. As odd as it seems, there was something inside each of us that transcended gender age, nationality, religion...even language.
There was something that was the same, allowing a forty-something Chinese Buddhist father of seven sons and the twenty-something Texan Baptist newlywed woman to form a friendship that would span decades.
Ky enriched my life. The tears that flowed today were in sorrow, of course, that his open and honest smile would no longer shine in this world, but they were also in gratitude for knowing him and relief that I didn't miss an opportunity to see him when it was given.
Ky knew how much our friendship meant to me, which gives me peace, and my memories bring me smiles. I guess I can't ask for more than that.
Thank you, and may you rest in peace, Ky, my dear, dear friend.
Ky's death wasn't just unexpected to me. It caught his family by surprise as well, so please keep them all in your prayers. He left an awesome legacy...as good men always do.