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One of my oldest friends died yesterday, and they don't really know why. The only thing I know for sure is that he died in his sleep, and will not be going home again.

Which isn't really true. I know lots of things that are part of our long history together. I remember that after two of my closest friends fired me, he went to dinner with me and made sure I was functional enough to go home and go to sleep and not do something stupid. He told me when it was time to stop raging about the guy who swung the axe and get on with my life. He did his best to help me as my marriage was coming apart, but there's only so much you can do when you're twelve hundred miles away. We got into Dungeons and Dragons together and went to SF conventions together and stayed up way too late on way too many nights talking about games and people and books and movies and music life and death and everything.

He was someone you could trust with your wife, your children, your money, your guns, your drugs, whatever people or things it was you held most valuable in life, because he was a man of ironclad probity. Utterly reliable, utterly trustworthy, even when he was dead broke and unemployed and homeless, reduced to living with friends who were willing to host him. He was a master storyteller, an accomplished LARPer who never made any money off those skills although all his friends would have been more than willing to let him use their characters' adventures for plot fodder.

I don't know where it started going wrong for him. He'd had a good job for a local internet company but they laid him off after a merger and he never caught on anywhere else. Toward the end, we started thinking he'd given up, and maybe, just maybe, that's really what killed him in the end. We all want to be the hero of our own stories, and if you're a storyteller you probably feel that pressure more than most folks. When the days drag on with no change and no job and no future anywhere in sight...maybe on some level, you stop caring and start dying inside.

Right now I miss him badly. Something is broken inside, and it won't stop hurting, and I don't really know how to deal with this except to take two Tylenol and drive on. Tomorrow is another day, and eventually this too shall pass.

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