About 13 months ago, after I ended my engagement and ventured back to 47th Street to return the ring I had used to propose, I reluctantly, almost hesitantly, saw the man from whom I'd purchased the ring. His father, a man I had met when I was nine, was a great guy -- possessing an ever-present smile, a deep, hearty laugh, and blue eyes that always twinkled, especially around kids. His father had contracted a disease which I believe was called "Myelodysplastic Syndrome," which is a form of leukemia (if anyone has more info on this, feel free to comment or e-mail me). Hearing he was sick, I delayed acting on my decision to purchase the ring, because I didn't want to complicate his battle with my situation. I wasn't worried, because this was a man who was, to me, almost larger than life. In retrospect, I realize I made the wrong decision. He succumbed to his battle around July of last year.
In the subsequent months, first when I purchased the ring from his son, Josh, and later, after several fittings with my then-fiancee, and the eventual return of the ring, I had thought a lot about Josh and his father, Howard. Apparently, Josh had had some type of brain tumor but, by the time I finally stopped in to see him (after his father had passed away), he was in remission and doing very well. His older son had just had his Bar Mitzvah and Josh and his family seemed to be great. By the time I last visited him to drop off the ring, I advised him that I'd be back in no time to purchase a new ring. That was a promise I intended to keep.
Over the past couple months, I'd been considering taking Kaia to look at rings, and with her coming to NYC next month, I'd decided to take her to see Josh. Knowing she knew what she liked, and knowing Josh is a friend who I trust implictly, I was aware of the significance of this step. And I was ready to proceed -- without hesitation.
On my way home tonight, we received a call from my father who had been reading the paper and saw the news -- Josh had passed away this past Sunday, September 11th. There were no details, but based on his recent history, and that of his father, I knew he had not been out of the woods. He might have been fine when I last saw him, and he might have still been suffering. But either way, upon hearing the news I went numb.
I suppose it will take a few days for me to process the news -- but what bothers me most is that I didn't make it to his funeral, which was yesterday. All I do know is that I -- eventually -- will purchase another ring, and I will learn from my past mistake and not offer it to the wrong person. More importantly, I will think of Josh when I make the purchase, and will also think of him every time I see Michael Schumacher's name, a Mini Cooper, or a Morgan 4/4. And every time I think back to my hometown, or come across the Kiss album Dressed to Kill, I'll pause just a second in deference to the memory of a friend and someone I cared about who, somehow, is no longer in this world. Thinking about his family -- two kids under 15, his wife, his mother, his sister -- just makes me sad and wonder how this could happen.
Or as Don Henley wrote, "the more I know, the less I understand."
Rest in peace, Josh.