The other day I got to wondering about an old friend of mine.

He was a real friend but he was also a Facebook friend. Sometimes the two are one and the same.

I was thinking that he hadn’t posted in a while. Or maybe the Facebook algorithm was keeping his posts from me. Anyway I found his page easily enough. Strangely, the first post in his feed was someone else sharing pictures. The second post was by another person, who wrote, “I miss my friend. I hope he is at peace.”

That… didn’t sound good. I scrolled down a bit more and saw posts about him being missing. I didn’t scroll down anymore. Instead, I searched elsewhere online for him and saw more posts about him missing. And then a post about him being found. Or rather, his body being found.

Of course, I was shocked. This was July. These posts were from December. We’d been good friends (and neighbours) for a period of a few years a decade or so ago. Then life happened and both of us had moved and we’d only seen one another sporadically since then.

I take the position that once I’m friends with someone we’re friends for life, almost always picking up where we’ve left off once we see one another again, even after several years. I’m pretty sure that would have been the case with this particular friend.

But now that is no longer possible.

He was only in his late forties. Police do not suspect foul play. On the one hand, it’s pretty obvious what happened to him. On the other hand, there is a deep well of unknowability there. Clearly something was horribly wrong, resulting in a tragic ending.

This was a kind man. The first time I ever met him we had just moved into our new house. I was in our driveway, our enormous driveway, trying to rid it of about five feet worth of snow. He came over from next door with a shovel and we tackled it together. Then he disappeared into his house and emerged with beers, and we celebrated our victory over the snow with beers in the driveway. We were fast friends after that.

Later, we came home from a week in the hospital with our premature babies to find that he and his wife had painted and decorated a room in our house for us, a nursery for the babies. It was tastefully done with great care and skill. Who does that?

There is more, much more, including tragedy and, I know, mistakes, and then we parted ways, and obviously there’s a lot I don’t know that ultimately led to an untimely, tragic end for my friend.

There isn’t much about him or his life online, but I know that the work he chose for himself over the last twenty years, crafting specialty wheelchairs, helped make a lot of peoples’ lives easier. I see in photos that he successfully grew a great, magnificent grey beard, that initially looked odd to me, because I knew him mostly as a young man, but that I see suited him somehow. I know that he left behind people that cared about him a lot.

Death is strange, with such finality to it. I’ve seen a few friends go in the last couple of years. Not a one of them old enough to actually go forever, in my opinion. I think about them all a lot. I’ve been thinking about this particular friend frequently the last few days. I know that he, that they, are all still part of the universe, just in a different way.

But that doesn’t comfort me just now.