Luis is my #4 friend. We have a joke about that placement. When he asked me if he could be one of my best friends I told him I had nine who would precede his ranking. He humbly accepted his #10 spot with the hope of moving up in the ranks over time.
You have to know Luis. I'd say I've known about four people over my entire life that could make me laugh on the spot with their wit. My son, Jeff, was one of them. I don't need to name the others. But Luis is way up there - he is hilarious. I am sure that is one of the reasons he and Jeff were best friends. He and Jeff met while attending U.C. Davis. Fast friendships formed in the dorm they inhabited. A band of them drew really close and are all still freinds today enjoying the company of each other 20+ years later. They all have families and are really tight.
Jeff and Luis were like brothers. Luis has two brothers, Jeff had none. They shared their lives and philosophies together and also traveled together to South America. Oh the tales of that trip are many! Plus, I found a journal Jeff kept while on that trip. He detailed every single day of where they went, what they did as well as what they drank and more! Jeff drew little pictures on every page depicting highlights of the day, often a mountain, a llama or some beautiful girl. Before I move I am planning on giving Luis that journal to enjoy and relive his memories of the great trip they had together.
Luis lives about 70 miles from Jeff's house here in Santa Rosa. Though a busy career in San Francisco, his wife Joann, his daughter Anna,his own parents and many other responsibilities keep him incredibly busy, such a distance did not keep Luis from 'showing up' in Jeff's time of need. He stood by him through thick and thin while Jeff suffered from MS and endured a devastating divorce.
I don't know how Jeff would have managed without his friend Luis who did more than most brothers might have. His commitment to Jeff was so totally and completely without thought to himself it spoke volumes to what friendship should and can be when selflessness comes into play. I have always been grateful for Luis' wife Joann for her commitment to Jeff by coming alongside Luis so that Jeff took a higher priority during this season, cutting into their time together. These are two phenomenal people.
It's no wonder their daughter, Anna, who is not only beautiful, talented and intelligent, is so thoughtful as well. When she would come with her Poppa or Mommy to visit Jeff in the hospice home many times a week over the four months he was there, she would like to comb Jeff's hair...she did this very carefully and lovingly. I came upon a page in the book that was made for people who visited to write in..notes about Jeff and what he said, that would one day be for little Kevin. There are a few pages in there where Anna drew pictures. One was of Jeff in bed with hearts all around it and the notation was that while Jeff was sleeping, he was dreaming of hearts. So sweet. So loving..just like her parents.
Not only did Luis and Joann take good care of Jeff, they have come close to me in order to do the same, making my transitioning much less difficult over the past two years. There are flowers on Mother's Day, gifts at Christmas and phone calls with helpful suggestions and just great conversations. The gifts they give me have meaning...one set of earrings have tiny starfish on the end, a silver with inlaid turquoise necklace is in the beautiful shape of a whale's tail - small and tasteful. Because of Jeff's love of the ocean they know these are gifts with great memories for me. I appreciate their love and care. They have been there for me in other significant ways as well.
Often Luis would call me while driving home from work. This is when we talk about whatever needed to be talked about, and laugh so much. Again, he is so humorous and outrageous. I cackle and snort even! He was once bemoaning the fact that he was #10 in the friendship list wondering what he could possibly do to reach a higher ranking. I said ok ok...you are #4. He didn't accept it easily because he knew he had cajoled me into it, but that's his standing.
He's #1 with me for what he has done for Jeff always and for how he has taken care of me since Jeff's passing. I love him and his little family to pieces, not just for all they have always done for us, but for who they are deep inside where it matters.
"Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with." - Mark Twain
"A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure." - Sirach 6:14