Tempus fugit

Posted in Cancer at 9:27 am by George Smith

College football season starts this weekend. It always meant special Saturdays in Pasadena with my friend Don. He’d come early, the noon games on the east coast starting at nine, lasting until evening. We liked the same teams. There’s nothing like a group of two guys who have no genuine spite in them, cheering the designated favorites and effortlessly booing foes for a few hours.

In between we’d have a meal, choosing a half-time or a 30 minute spot between broadcasts. We’d go someplace close — the Hat or Wolf Burger. Or I’d make chili dogs or grilled shrimp, anything not particularly healthy.

The start of the 2011 season was the last weekend that would be part of the normal ritual for Don and I. He’d already had an attack of some kind but the doctors did not know the cause. Most of his strength had returned for a week or so — it would start seeping away again soon enough — and we watched the kickoff of the season, not knowing what was coming. There was barely a hint of a storm cloud on the horizon.

Then the cancer diagnosis. There would be no more sitting in the football director’s chair. And in January, a day after the BCS championship game, he died.

And this Labor Day weekend the season will start again.

But I won’t be there, either. The death of a close friend shows you everything you have lost in the skein of life, gradually, unraveling in moments through the natural cycle of one year.

We did not do college football Saturdays because of the sport, really.

Oh, that was certainly a fun part. But not the part. It was just one of many convenient hooks upon which we hung friendship and the enjoyment of life together.

And on Saturday I will miss him dearly, make a another mental memorial, and time will seem to pause, then move on.

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