We spoke on the phone a month ago, me sitting on my stoop in Harlem, My friend on the other side of the country in Minnesota. I was planning a trip to visit and was making plans with him. Every time we met it was always filled with a walk down memory lane which would make us smile of all the things we shared. He had a great smile. The one thing you could say about him was that no matter how you were feeling, just go around my buddy and your worries would disappear in the shadow of his smile.

I wasn’t prepared for the phone call from a friend that let me know my friend had suddenly died of a brain aneurysm. I was in denial as I just spoke to him and there was no mention of any ill health concerns. Yet no matter how much I wanted to deny it, it was true. My friend was called back home.

Along with the fun we had together we also shared having HIV. We would talk about how we were managing it as it was real important to have that one person you can be honest with and discuss the ugliness side of the disease without feeling judged or that you were burdening someone with a depressing topic. We were a great support system for each other.

We met when he saw an interview I did for the local paper discussing the HIV support group I was attending. Soon he was a member. We hit it off from the beginning and it was at that moment my memory banks were being replenished by his good spirit.

How do you say goodbye when you’re never given the chance? When they are there one moment and the next they’re not. How do you deal with the sadness of knowing that someone you loved as a dear friend is no longer with us.

How do you deal with the fact that HIV and death, although are in check with today’s medicines-still have a relationship. Although my friend’s death may or may not have been associated with his staus, there’s still a reality check that tomorrow is never promised.

It’s that reality that made me open my eyes to the life I’m living. Am I living a full life and am I doing everything possible to make sure it’s a healthy life? Am I taking my meds everyday despite how sometimes I may miss a dose or two? Am I being honest with my doctor and telling him everything that’s going on and not waiting for it to pass. Am I going after my dreams like my friend did-despite the naysayers who said you can’t, you shouldn’t, you won’t.

How do I say goodbye.

I don’t. I hold on to the memories, the smile and the good heart and I adopt it. I also deny myself the ability to be selfish and enjoy the friendships I’ve made on this earth and tell them how much I love them any chance I can.

I stop letting technology get in the way and stop sending texts and updates to my friends on Facebook. A easy way to say in touch but an impersonal way to stay connected. I’ve started to do it the old fashion way-making that phone call to hear their voice or knocking on their door to see them in person.

I say thank you to my friend and know that although on your funeral program they listed when your sun set. But I know in my heart your sun will always shine on me. And when that sun shine and I stand in its rays, instead of complaining about the heat. I’ll instead appreciate the fact I’m here to feel that heat and most of all feel you always forever in my heart.

My friend- I’m not saying goodbye but I am asking you to do one thing for me. Save me a seat at the table and know I will always love you!