Death of a Friend
This is not a post I wanted to write, but it is one I must. Last week, I was, in fact, preparing another post, but then death intruded into my life. My blog is supposedly about photography, yet here I am writing about death. Most Americans don’t like to talk or even think about death. Yet death is a part of life. And, like most photographers, most of my photography is about life – places I’ve been, people I’ve met, the sharing of scenes that enrich my life. So, here I am, writing about the one inevitable part of life that we all must face – death.
This post is not one I wanted to write. It has been difficult putting these words on “paper.” It’s difficult to share. I’ve procrastinated, refusing to believe, searching my feelings for truth, for a reason. I’ve procrastinated, because by not putting this down on paper, somehow it cannot be real, because maybe it is just a dream. But it is real, and I cannot procrastinate further. My friend, Gary Mueller, deserves to be celebrated, and hopefully this post can be a small part of a celebration of Gary’s life, a celebration of his lasting impact on this world. A world he made a better place by just being himself. For Gary was one of the happiest people I know. A gentle, caring man, always quick with a smile, a chuckle, and an amusing story. He was a delight to be around. He was a Beatles fanatic, a dedicated Washington State Cougars fan, a fine wine and beer connoisseur. Most of all, he was my friend; a reliable mate to share a beer, help with a chore, or to just hang with. A man so full of life and love.
I met Gary about 40 years ago in high school. And unlike with many of my high school friends, Gary and I kept in touch. Over the past 15 years of so, since Tanya has been in my life, we have gotten together with Gary and his wife Vicki almost monthly. A week ago Thursday, Gary collapsed while getting ready for work. Vicki found him a minute or two later, but he was already gone. Often when the four of us were together, we’d joke about how Gary was the youngest of the four (we are all within about a year of the same age). Yet now, seemingly way before his time, he was the first to go.
If we are lucky in life, we have a few true friends. Friends who will stick with us through anything life throws at us, who aren’t bothered by our warts and eccentricities, who make our lives better to live. Gary was such a friend. He made my life better; he made me better. And this, my feeble attempt at a tribute, does not do him justice. Gary, my dear friend, I miss you…