This is not an awesome things post. This is a tragic things post.
My good friend, of about 20 years, Jeff McLaughlin was found dead last night from what I am hearing is an overdose. I haven't been able to confirm any of that just yet but this post isn't about how he died, it is about how he affected people while he lived.
I met Jeff while playing volleyball way back in the day. It was almost impossible not to be pulled into his gravity. For the people who know him, they will agree that his energy and his personality actually overwhelms you when you are in the same room with him. Some call it schtick but to me, it was just his way. He had a way of being the center of attention in almost all environment and if he wasn't, he would just declare to everyone that he should be. It was that simple. lol For my birthday one year, he bought me a picture frame. It wasn't a special frame but what made it unique was that it came with his 6x8 glossy smiling head shot in it. lol I will remember it forever. He was hysterically laughing the whole time but I expected nothing less from him.
Over the next 20 years, we would cross each other paths on the tennis courts, volleyball courts and once or twice on the curling ice. But you know me and cold...curling was short lived. ;) No matter how many months had gone by, no matter how many relationships pulled us away from hanging out together, the minute you began talking to Jeff, you felt better. I can't remember a single time where he didn't seem on top of the world. Of course that is not the case if what I am hearing is true.
It has been about 5 months since I saw Jeff last and I have no idea what was going on in his life that led him to this decision. I am hoping that this may have been just a bad accident and not a result of hopelessness. Because if the latter is true, it is hard not to feel guilty that you weren't there, you couldn't help...etc. But I know that is a pretty selfish thing to think. We can't all save each other.
So regardless of what happened, I hope that Jeff has found peace. I hate to think that he couldn't find it here among his friends and family that cared for him. Buddy, I will always appreciate our matches, our drinking binges and partying...but most of all your jokes and endless laughter. It seems like a lifetime ago but the memories feel like yesterday.