Last Tuesday July 7, I drove from Salida, Colorado to the ranchland around Folsom, New Mexico to visit a dear friend. It was a quick visit, lasting almost exactly 24 hours. I was there to visit my friend John, who has a ranch there. He took me to see the grounds, let me break a few of his arrows on his archery set, cooked an awesome vegetarian stir fry. We smoked cigars from Tampa while sitting around a bonfire in the damp New Mexico night, talking about life and sharing dreams and plans for the future.
The next day he gave me the Grand Tour of the area. We climbed around the rim of Mount Capulin, a dormant volcano from which we could see his ranch and much, much more.
We made a loop to the Folsom Museum, and counted on one hand how many open businesses we saw. We visited his horse, Good Sense, who is not quite ready to ride. We checked on the vegetable garden and grape vines that he planted earlier in the summer.
There was a lot more to do, but I had to get back to my family in Salida. So in the early afternoon, we said our farewells and I promised that all the things we hadn’t done yet would be accomplished next time.
He died early the next morning.
Natural causes, but far too young to be in the business of dying.
I felt the urge to visit him when I did, not least because I was so close geographically but because we have been close friends for years and the last time we met I wasn’t the best person I could be. So I wanted to make things right before I left for the next year.
Just goes to show that you never know where life will take you. I went to have a great visit with a great friend, which I did. I didn’t realize that I would spend his last days with him.
So please, if you are reading this and you feel like there is a friend you have been meaning to call, pick up the phone today. Make that time for a visit, even if it is quick. Leave nothing unsaid, especially the good stuff.
So here’s to you, John Whelan. I love you and will always remember you for being the true friend you have always been to me.