When someone important dies in my world (the real one, not the ones I make up) we leave a drink at the end of the bar in his or her honor. Important means nothing like rich or famous or powerful. Important means someone who mattered: friends and loved ones.
Often we’ll honor those friends and comrades who never made it back from foreign lands. This Friday we’ll do that again for Veteran’s Day. I know a few who never made it back, and quite a few more who made it back but a left a piece of themselves behind.
As small as it sounds, that honor works because it is personal. It’s not trite words and generic symbols, it is a toast to the lost.
I had originally planned to write a Veteran’s Day post specifically on this topic, a post honoring those who never returned. I still want to do that post, but…after.
After I say the rest.
After I mourn.
Many times we honor someone all-but anonymous in the grand scheme of things, but someone important nonetheless.
I lost a friend this past weekend. Someone young and strong, someone with a great deal of life ahead of him still.
I sit here, fat and drunk and way past my expiration date, yet my friend died and left behind a beautiful wife and a pair of young kids who still need their father.
It’s not fair.
But it’s another drink at the end of the bar.
You didn’t know him, but raise a glass to him anyway. He mattered. Mattered to his family, to his friends, and to me…and I’m sick to hell of leaving drinks at the end of the bar.