Nick’s buddy: It’s time to move on.

My cousin and his wife Casey lived next door so I went for a visit one day but my cousin wasn’t home. Casey was though, so we hung for a bit before she asked if I wanted to visit with another neighbor.

Despite all of us living in the same neighborhood, only houses away from one another, it had been years since I’d last seen her neighbor Nick who was outside the back of his house when we got there. We crept through the garage to see him.

Nick looked just as I remembered: tall and lanky; dark hair; dark, expressionless eyes.

“You guys wanna play some softball?” Nick asked upon seeing us.

Talk about it being a long time since seeing or doing something… I was a kid the last time I played softball, but I loved the game so I was in.

First up to bat was Nick. He slammed the ball way out in the field so that his buddy, who looked super familiar, had to fetch it.

Next was Casey. She made contact with the ball but nothing like Nick had.

Then there was me. It had been 20 years or so since I’d even picked up a bat, but how hard could it be?

Hard.

I had so little strength to grip the bat; my hands fumbled to get in position despite my brain knowing exactly what I needed to do.

Finally I mustered up enough power to lift the bat and Nick’s buddy pitched the ball. I swung and totally missed the ball, but the bat went flying from my hands just past Nick’s buddy’s head.

They all just looked at me.

“Lessgo shower,” Nick proclaimed.

Like robots, we all four headed toward the shower, which was a single standing box shower in the back of a huge pickup truck.

We all wore bathing suits and showered quickly. First was Nick, then his buddy, then Casey.

When it was my turn, I had a hard time not watching Nick’s buddy sitting in the front of the pickup truck, behind the steering wheel. While the water poured over my body, he just sat there looking ahead and smiled. I couldn’t stop watching him sit there and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I knew him from somewhere.

“You done?” Nick asked, popping his head in through the shower door.

With a towel wrapped around me and my hair dripping water down my back, we all started walking back into the house. All except for Nick’s buddy.

“Hey man, you comin or what?” Nick shouted toward the truck.

There was no answer, no movement.

“Hey!” Nick shouted again.

And again there was no response.

Nick, Casey, and I all looked at one another and then back toward the truck. In slow motion, we moved toward the truck. Nick opened the passenger side door.

“Yo!” Nick reached to shake his buddy by the shoulder. “Dude, you comin?”

Nick’s buddy, staring out the front window of the truck, hands on the steering wheel as if he were driving, smiled. Then he slowly turned his head to us. His bright blue eyes practically glowed, while the warmest smiled I’d ever seen in all my life said hello.

Nick’s buddy was Robin Williams. THE Robin Williams.

“Yeah man,” Robin said. “Lessgo.”

***

(This is a dream I had early this morning before my alarm sounded. Names, other than Robin Williams’, have been changed.)

***

It’s been a rough couple of days. For many of us.

The news on Robin Williams’ death shook a lot of us to the core. Depression is an evil motherfucker. Sometimes we think we may be doing well and then bam! something transforms us back into the depths of the dark hole.

Find the light, my friends. It’s shining so goddamn brightly, I promise.

You may not see it this very second, but keep looking and when you do see it, focus on it till it envelops you instead of that fucking black hole that you’re submerged in.

Goddamn is life hard. But it truly is a gift. Truly.

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