Sometimes out of tragedy comes an impetus for change. I'm still dealing with my own emotional wreckage over Clay Kappelman's death. His funeral was yesterday. I wish I could have been there. Clay's passing has brought back a flood of memories which has been a very cathartic experience, in a very good way.
I am one for carrying guilt around like a one ton boulder in my back pocket. Guilt because I have let so many good friends come and go through the years. Part of it is because of the gypsy existence I have led as a journalist, the other part of it is from personal demons that I have had to deal with that were once part of my life.
I'm thinking about people that I became close to in my college years like Jim Carothers, an English professor at Kansas who is the greatest story teller I have ever spent an evening with and the father I never had, Mike Carothers his son who was the brother I never had, Walt Riker, a baseball fanatic and jazz buff who has an incredible heart and may be one of the smartest people I know, David Barnhart, every bit as smart as Walt, a man who showed me that all things are possible if you never give up and Tony Gauthier who shared my love of the Grateful Dead and a man who I probably have had some of my best times of my life with whether in his living room or at a concert.
I'm going home this weekend and there are two friends who I am going to go see who I haven't seen in a long time. Phil Wedge and I were about as close as you could get in college. I don't know how he put up with me. He's an English professor and he is one person who I suspect has lived his life remembering to stop and smell the roses as he has embraced it. And then there's Dale Culver. I hadn't seen him in over 20 years. He emailed me after Clay's passing and it really struck a chord.
You see I feel this deep narly guilt because I don't reach out to these old friends. I think of people these people listed above and a whole host of others more often then they probably would ever guess. These friends, scattered across the country, gave me so many good memories and good times.
That's why I cling so fiercely to the trio of good friends I have left back in Lawrence and Kansas City. Steve, Chris and Mike are my life line to sanity. They remind of where I once was and how far I've come.