To my friend:
For almost two years I failed you. In my frenetic attempt to construct a life I forgot to live. I forgot that my friends and family are what make a life, not job or hobby or politics. I let you down when you needed every friend you could get. Unlike the many times you were there for me, I was not there. And now, I have no chance to make it right.
I spoke to your family, you taught them well. Your son has become a man. I remember our talks about our sons, our hope that they would survive the teen years. That they would each reach their potential. Yours is well on his way. The strength and grace he has shown is clearly your legacy. You were proud I'm sure as well you should have been.
Your daughter has your heart. She has the same piercing, burning, accepting eyes you had. You just trust that look. Coupled with the biting wit honed on years of hanging with you and your friends she is shaping up to be a formidable person in her own right.
Your wife is a rock. I know you and her didn't always see eye-to-eye, but that was the charm of your relationship. She has exhibited strength I had no idea she had.
It comes as no surprise to you that you had as many friends as family there that day. Long time friends or new, your life touched so many people if they had opened the microphone up to everyone that wanted to speak we'd have been there for days. Not that anyone would have minded, or left for that matter.
No one mentioned "Fluffy," what a shame. It was so irreverent yet so descriptive. So many memories, so many joys and sorrows, highs and lows, successes and failures. Too many late nights in cold cell sites, too many long trips in "Pig." We were road warriors, friends, "Men Of The Toe." How I'll miss you. In so many ways you were the brother I didn't have.
So why did I let you down? Why did I let so much distance come between us? I don't know. Sometimes you liked to talk so much it was difficult to hang up the phone. The two hour time difference made phone calls inconvenient sometimes. We lost touch with the "day-to-day" stuff and that made catching up all the harder. All pretty lame excuses now. But it was never because I stopped wanting to be your friend, only that I've never really known how to be a good friend.
I need to change that, every day from now on. I need to nurture my friendships because I'm getting to that time in life when more and more I'll be saying good-bye to friends old and new.
If you'll let me, Robbie, I'd like to use my mistakes with you as a guide on how not to have a friend. I'd like to go forward with your life as an example of the value of friends.
There were over 300 people there to say good bye to you. Many were family to be sure, but no one there can doubt the role friends played in your life. No one can doubt the importance of your friends to you. I hope you knew how important you were to all of us.
May we all be so fortunate.