Yesterday we said good-bye to a good friend. My good friend Joe passed away at the young age of 43 after a long battle with various health problems and hospitalizations. My dad, brother, and I learned that his condition was end stage just Thursday, and we hurried into the hospital on Friday to say goodbye to him. He passed just as we arrived, life leaving his body and traveling into the great beyond, a beautiful soul bidding farewell to those of us left behind.
Joe was a gentle soul with a brilliant mind. Unfailingly kind, I don't think he had a malicious bone in his body. His tolerance for others spread to anyone who met him. He was jolly by nature and inspired laughter within minutes of being around him.
Joe became known to our family in 2000, when he worked with my dad at a travel magazine. He became part of our adopted family in the following years. His blood family lived far away, spread out across the US and in Ghana, his country of birth. Joe was always present with us at holidays, family dinners, and special occasions, it was always assumed that Joe would have a spot at our table, he was one of us. When Francisco met Joe upon moving here in 2005 they became fast friends, bonding over their skin colors and their love of weird stewed meats. They traded website work for home cooked meals and formed a tight bond that lasted up until the end.
Joe was as much like a brother to me as my own flesh. I loved him despite his inability to care for himself the way he deserved, in spite of his lifelong battle with addiction. His good heart and loving personality shone through each time I spoke to him. He was a person worth caring about. I carry him in my heart now and forever. I hope that more people can aspire to be as kind to others as Joe, and that we who loved him will all learn from his mistakes and take care of our bodies, so they will in turn carry us through to old age.
Good-bye Joe. Thank you for sharing your friendship, your laughter, your insight, your intelligence, your compassion, and your grace with me. I will never forget what a good man you were. Until we meet again...