386. Marching Home

TMTF will be taking a one-week break. The blog shall return on September 21.

A dear friend of mine recently passed away. I’ve mentioned him before on this blog, calling him Socrates, but today I’m going to call him Nick. His friends and family are devastated by his death, and I’m dealing with it in exactly the same way I deal with a lot of things—by writing about it.

I mentioned Nick in TMTF’s very first post; he was the friend who pretended to rip out and eat my still-beating heart every time we worked together. Nick and I met a few years before I started this blog. I was on a bus to Chicago when Nick, who was sitting in the seat behind mine, got my attention and said, “Okay, this is kind of a random question, but have you heard of a show called Avatar: The Last Airbender?”

Avatar - The Last Airbender

Nick and I were friends from that day onward.

I was starting my first semester at Bethel College in Indiana, and had just begun the nightmarish chapter I call my Thursday Afternoon of the Soul. It was about a year and a half of deep depression. That was a dark time, but there were flickers of light, and some of the brightest were the nights I spent watching Avatar: The Last Airbender with Nick and another dear friend, whom I’ll call Socrates. (I have to call someone Socrates.)

Although Nick and I had seen the show, Socrates had not. Nick and I took it upon ourselves to introduce Socrates to the epic adventure and captivating world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. (Seriously. If you haven’t already seen the show, you should. It’s a good one.) Starting at the beginning of our freshman year and ending on its final day, we watched the entire series together, averaging a couple of episodes every week.

It may sound silly or trivial, but those nights were gulps of sweet, fresh air in a year spent drowning in depression, anxiety, and loneliness. My best memories of that year are of those nights, which I called Avatar Evenings. Between episodes of the show, we munched junk food, discussed life, and laughed.

Nick, Socrates, and I hardly knew each other when we began watching the show. When we finished it, we were good friends.

Nick, pictured here choking Socrates. Good times.

Nick, here pictured choking Socrates. Good times.

Life went on. Our friendship endured through our college years. Nick, Socrates, and I were housemates for nearly as long as we attended college. We watched a couple of Pixar movies in theaters, and suffered through M. Night Shyamalan’s wretched film adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. (It was really bad; we left the theater laughing at its awfulness.) It was only in our final year that we began to drift apart.

I sporadically kept in touch with Nick. In fact, he suggested the book I’m currently reading; I won’t be able to pick it up again without thinking of him. We remained fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Our final conversation a few weeks ago was a short series of Facebook messages about the show’s sequel series.

Earlier this week, the news reached me that a health complication had taken Nick’s life.

Nick suffered from depression and existential anxiety, and in later life, from medical problems. Through all of it, he never gave up. He was honest, creative, and compassionate. I’m glad we were friends.

At the moment, I find myself even more thankful than usual for the dear friends God has given me. For all of my friends who are reading this, I have this to say: Thank you for being my friend. I wish I had told Nick how much I loved, admired, and appreciated him. I wish it were easier for me to say how much I love, admire, and appreciate every one of you.

On a less sentimental note, I will be taking a one-week break from this blog. My transition toward becoming a CNA at work has been stressful and a bit rough. I could use a little extra time to catch up with other things. Finally, after the tragic news about Nick, I’m not sure I have the heart right now for this blog’s usual geeky nonsense. TMTF shall return on September 21. There will be no posts until then.

I conclude with a song. No, really. It’s an odd, geeky way to say goodbye to a friend, but I think Nick would have approved.

There was a scene in Avatar: The Last Airbender that Nick and I loved, and discussed at length. It’s my favorite moment in the series. I’m not sure I shall ever be able to watch it again without remembering Nick and Socrates and our Avatar Evenings.

In this scene, a wise old man named Iroh bustles around town gathering items for a picnic. Everywhere he goes, he helps someone. When he sees a flower wilting, Iroh gives its owner advice on how to make it bloom. When a thug tries to rob him, Iroh disarms the man, makes him tea, and eventually convinces him to find a legitimate job.

And when Iroh passes a crying child, he calms the little one with a lullaby.

At the end of the day, Iroh sets up his picnic… as a memorial for his son, who died long before. “Happy birthday, my son,” says Iroh tearfully. “If only I could have helped you.”

Then Iroh sings that lullaby again. It was at this point, when we watched the series, that Nick and I held back tears of our own.

In much the same way Iroh brightened the lives of others, Nick brightened mine.

God rest your soul, Nick.

Leaves from the vine

Falling so slow

Like fragile, tiny shells

Drifting in the foam

Little soldier boy

Come marching home

Brave soldier boy

Comes marching home

6 thoughts on “386. Marching Home

  1. Thank you for posting this, Adam. Nick was a great friend to have, and he will be deeply missed.

    Also, Socrates benefitted greatly from those Avatar evenings too, I’m sure.

  2. Sounds like he touched your life in a way we can all hope to achieve for someone sometime during this temporary corporeal journey of ours. And that is something to celebrate!

  3. Sad thing is that episode was a tribute to Mako who died and had voiced Iroh previously. Funny (weird) how things turn out like that huh?

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