I thought I saw you sitting there on the bench inside the airport. I was rushing to get put my shoes back on, my coat, make sure everything was in place after going through the Security checkpoint. I look up and there you were sitting with two little kids on each side of you. I could barely breathe, my eyes filled with tears as you turned towards me laughing except it wasn't you.
It will never be you because you are gone. You've been gone for four years now. You'll never be the age this man is. He is about 55 years old and sitting here with his grandkids. You died when you were 36. This will never be you sitting here, tying their shoes, laughing and putting on their coats, looking around for whatever has been dropped or tossed under the bench.
I'm hiding around the corner, sobbing uncontrollably. I see you, my friend, in this man and I am suddenly feeling so many emotions. I'm sad, I'm shocked and I'm livid. Incensed you are gone.
I'm angry this moment was taken away from you. To see someone who looks exactly like you, right here in this moment. Enjoying what you should be if your life wasn't stolen away.
Grief is selfish. I'm crying for me because I miss you so much. Tears flow into restaurant napkins as I hide my face as crowds pass by. I keep peeking at the man because as painful as it is to see his face, it's the closest thing I have had in years to seeing you.
Everything in me wants to run up and throw my arms around him and say "I knew it wasn't real! Where were you, where did you go?"
Slowly the sobs subside and the tears slow and the man begins to pack up as he and the children start to head to their gate. I realize he will soon be gone and my sadness is replaced with a clearer image of your face. I can hear your deep booming laugh as they pass by me. I remember a silly moment between us and smile.
I watch as the man and his grandkids walk away and disappear through the crowd and realize I'm grateful for the experience. As abrupt as my tearful reaction had been, a calming peace replaced the storm.
I miss my friend but who knows, maybe he is doing all right.