Grief is such an all consuming thing, we get so wrapped up in our own feelings and the taking care of our own families grief, we forget about the loved ones friends. And just as devastated as we are, they can be at times even more as it is a peer. I understand the feelings on both sides now as I lost a good friend to a car accident 16 years ago and now losing my brother. The grief of a losing an important person to you is overwhelming and for some it can take a very long time to feel ‘normal’ again.
Len has some amazing friends. For us, his family we always called the three good friends of Len’s ‘The Boys’. The Boys have been apart of Lens life since they were all teenagers in high school. I remember the first time meeting them, my mom was moving and Len brought three friends with him to help. Who knew that, that simple act of kindness would last into a life long friendship.
When all of our family gathered together on the day Len died, also there, sharing in our shock and grief was ‘The Boys’. The three of them stood by the entrance to the living room and though they were all grown men with families of there own. At that moment when I looked at them they looked like three 16-year-old boys, scared, shocked, and not sure just what to say or do. But like the true friends they were to my brother they were there for his family. The three of them stepped up and helped take care of Lens business interests, they made sure that the assets of Len’s business were safe and accounted for, it was one less thing for us to worry about.
Though they all were in such deep sorrow they never loss sight of what was important, and that was that my mom was being taken care off. To this day each of The Boys call her regularly, take her out for lunch and recently once again helped her move.
The summer after Len died The Boys called and asked us to come for a BBQ. They wanted to see my Mom and show us all something. So on a beautiful Saturday we drove the close to two-hour drive north to spend the day together. We finally pulled into the driveway, there was already a large crowd of people there. I wanted to just blend in, as I didn’t know most of the guests. I found it hard to talk to anyone as I could feel the tears starting, but at least this time I was more prepared and had Kleenex in my pocket. As the afternoon progressed, someone would come up not knowing who I was and ask how did I know The Boys. I would reply "I am Len’s sister", the look of fear ‘Get me out of here and quick’ on their faces was priceless.
As the afternoon turned to early evening ‘The Boys’ gathered us up and brought us over to a corner of the yard. In the corner was a large rock that the three of them had engraved with Lens name and all of their names around it. It was a beautiful sentiment and even now when I see a picture of it, it brings tears to my eyes. But the best part of the rock was the story behind it.
Traditionally ‘The Boys’ including Len would go up to a cottage on the May long weekend. It was a weekend of eating big steaks, laughing, and drinking beer or in Lens case, as he didn’t care for beer, drinking some fancy girly drink. With Len not physically with them anymore they were hesitant to go, But my mom encourage them, and told them it would be good to get together. She felt that it would be what Len would of wanted.
So the three of them packed up a truck and went up north, but they were not with out Len, as they decided to bring the rock up with them. This is a big rock and it would take two strong men to normally carry it but add beer and grief to the mix and they needed all three of them. They loaded the rock on the truck and head to the cottage. The plan had been to leave the rock at the cottage, as it was a place were they all shared great memories of being together. But nobody could decide just were the rock should go as Len loved everything about being at the cottage. When they went down to the lake for a swim, they carried the rock down and sat it on the dock so Len could watch them swim. When they sat around the bonfire at night, so did the rock. When it was time for a beer, the rock got a beer as well (though I am sure the rock would of preferred a Singapore Sling). At night when it was time to go to bed, well they couldn’t just leave the rock outside by its self so into the cottage it came. The last day at the cottage was the day ‘The Boys’ needed to come to a consensus on just the right spot at the cottage for the rock to stay. They wandered the land with the rock and after much discussion they finally came to an agreement. The three of them carried the rock back to the pickup truck and heaved it up into the bed of the truck. Just as the four of them traditionally drove to the cottage every May long weekend, the four of them drove back from the cottage together.
And to this day it sits in the back corner of one of ‘The Boys’ back yard for all to see and reminisce about Len and the importance of friendship.