Be Thankful. Every. Single. Day.

Brian Benefield's friend John, smiling

Photo of his friend John, by Brian Benefield

[This is the latest installment of “Cobb Cuisine, Culture and Community” by Brian Benefield]

My friend John passed away today, and I am despondent.  I met John at a pub named Faces, and it is aptly labeled because the people you meet there leave an indelible mark on your soul.  We struck up a conversation about the movie Goodfellas over a few PBRs, and we both found it tragically hilarious that a gangster movie can make you laugh about murder.  

Our personalities just clicked.  He was a music aficionado, and the first time we ambled over to his house, just a stone’s throw from the bar, I was in awe of the size of his vinyl record collection that rose from floor to ceiling on several walls in the den area.  

I had a gut feeling yesterday to message him to see how he was doing and to ask about meeting for lunch or coffee, but it was too late.  Be thankful for your close friends and family; if your gut tells you to reach out to someone, trust that feeling and don’t hesitate to wait until later.  Sometimes, there is no later.   

Too many times in life, we debate whether or not to contact kin folk or long-lost friends because of a simple misunderstanding that could likely be resolved by having a thoughtful conversation.  I am guilty of being complacent and just sending a text to someone I know I should call to hear their voice. Isn’t it ironic that we use our smartphones for everything except talking to each other?  

I choose to remember the good times we had.  John and I had many irreverent, funny chats at various bars around Marietta.  We loved talking about sports, movies, and sometimes the taboo of politics.  I will forever cherish our witty banter, and whenever I hear the melodic voice of Elvis Costello, I will always think of him.  

I hate writing in the past tense about my friend, and I don’t like using the word hate. John introduced me to genres of music that I wasn’t familiar with, and he opened up my world to an entirely new musical palette.  He enjoyed everything from Sex Pistols to Bach’s symphonies.  

I also met my wife, Cecilie, my greatest love and muse at Faces.  

She was tending bar there part-time and gave me a fake name, Babette, but a real phone number on a matchbook.  It’s a good thing I didn’t wash those jeans, and soon we will be married for fourteen years.  She gave me this little gem, “create a life with things to be thankful for, take inventory of your friends, family and make time for them.”  Damn, maybe she’s the writer in the family.  

Today’s gloomy, dark weather resembles the feeling in my heavy heart.  But the sun will shine again soon, a gentle breeze will blow, and I will hear a song in my mind that reminds me of my friend John.  Rest easy, my brother.  Buy that plane ticket, go see the person you saw in a dream, and hold high reverence for the love you share. 

Be thankful not only for the turkey, dressing, and veggies on your plate but the people at your table.  Every. Single. Day.