Remembering James - 1971-2018
As the years went by, we drifted apart
When I heard that he was gone
I felt a shadow cross my heart
- Rush, "Nobody's Hero"
My first ever gaming group was in the 1980s. In the summer between 5th and 6th grade I posted an ad in the local library looking for a gaming group. I was terrified as it was my first time DM-ing for a group - all the other gaming I'd done had been with one friend here, maybe two others.
Some members of that group became my closest friends in middle school and into high school. Jim was one of them. When I see the show Stranger Things I think of that game of friends. I'd suddenly found a gang of geeky people to hang out with. I remember being over Jim's house many times - his family had a VCR long before mine did - and we watched tons of science fiction and fantasy films. The Last Unicorn, Star Trek II, etc. Halloween parties at his house. He always managed to find new games - he introduced me to Top Secret, Tunnels & Trolls and many other. I remember just how great it was having friends, being a geeky, chunky kid. Jim was a good one. Like me, he was a big kid. But man he could dance at our school's Top 40 Club.
We went to different high schools but still had a decent amount of contact. We both went to UConn in fall of 1989 and we did a ton of stuff together that first semester. Alas, college wasn't for Jim and he departed after one semester. As so often happens in life, we drifted out of touch. The last time I saw him face to face was probably a little before I got married in the mid-1990s.
We encountered each other on Facebook several years back and alas his health has been bad for much of that time. He passed away last night.
Jim was one of the best friends of my later childhood - late tween years into teen. I'd've been a lot lonelier had he not been in my life. My thoughts are with those close to him.
Once upon a time I was nearly certain of a life after this one. I don't have that certainty any more. At times like this I think of Carl Sagan's words -
The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.
The next time I'm at my parents' house I'll see if I can dig up a picture of him for our childhood. But until then, I'll use an image of Star Trek II to remember him. He made fun of how much the ear worms freaked me out...