Today I received the news that a friend died last night. It was just yesterday that we were kids in Oketo Park, not yet in High School. We were the Oketo Park Kids...if we weren't hanging out at someone's house we were at the park hanging out. We did this all through grammar school and high school.
We would meet at the park for something momentous or just to be together. It feels surreal that Arnie is gone! Just yesterday he met Joanne and introduced us all to her. Just yesterday they got married and then had 3 daughters. Just yesterday...and today he is gone!
Our memories are what make us who we are. My memories of that time are so filled with special moments, even when they weren't so special. That is the wonderful thing about looking back. We can put on our rose colored glasses and see a world that we may not have perceived as being magical, but in hindsight contained so many miraculous moments, it can only be thought of as magical.
When I saw the email this morning, with the names of so many of my old friends, my Oketo Park friends, I was right back there, sitting on the park benches or on the swings with all of them. How did we get here so fast and why are we slipping away so quickly. I have lost 3 very dear friends in the last couple of years, but this one is especially painful because of the age we all were when we met and the times we shared. Oh those times...I've probably written this before, I don't remember.
The time that always sticks in my mind is the night at Barbara Coan's house. Al Neuman hypnotized a number of people that night. Howie Debs had just gotten a Moped and Al had him hypnotized to believe that his Moped was being stolen and Howie was unable to get off the steps to stop them from taking his Moped. Then, at the end of the evening, Gary Fox had been given a post-hypnotic suggestion, when he said "good nite" to Mrs. Coan, Barbara's mom, he would faint. Of course, that is exactly what he did and poor Mrs. Coan...she truly did not know what to think. Needless to say, Gary frightened her terribly.
It was a funny night and all the Oketo Park kids were there...tonight we are missing one of us! The sadness has settled over me like a cloak. I know it's a sadness borne of many things, not just the loss of Arnie, but of our youth. If we only knew then...life goes by so quickly. We grow up, we marry, we have children, we move away from one another, but somehow the connection is always there. The memories that we created have bound us together forever, even across the miles.
Life will go on, but it will be a little less full without Arnie and his wonderful laugh. You will be missed Arnie Greene not just by your wife and children and grandchildren, but those of us who knew you when.