This post has been a long time coming. I’ve spoken of my friend Rob a couple of times on my old photogblog, Otakuphotog, but I have never actually made a post dedicated to him. I’m not sure why that is. I assume it’s because that I really don’t want to have to stop several times throughout the post and take a walk, because otherwise I’d end up breaking down and crying.
You see, 12 years ago today, my friend Rob died at the age of 29. It wasn’t in a cool jet skiing race with laser dolphins nor in a fearsome gun battle with alien Nazi’s who had come from the future to destroy Mitt Romney’s tax returns. It turns out Rob was doomed from birth.
Some time in the late spring of 2000, Rob was diagnosed as having Cystic fibrosis. While I was visiting Springfield in late June, he told me. The prognosis was bleak. He either got a lung transplant, or he died.
I’d never seen Rob cry before. However through it all, he still managed to be his self, breaking the somber mood with a quip about how at least now he got a cool handicap placard. That was his thing. Humor.
It was annoying to me, in a way, that he waited till I was getting ready to leave town to head back to Minnesota to tell me. Though that is how selfless he was. He didn’t want my whole vacation to be ruined by knowing my best friend was dying. Before I left for the Twin Cities, I made a stop. A closed down K-Mart’s parking lot, where I sat for at least 20 minutes.
I honestly don’t think I cried that much since my grandmother died.
I didn’t expect the next events to go so fast. Less than a month later, I notice a missed call on my cell phone. Our mutual friend Erich had left a voicemail.
Rob was dead.
I was a very… abnormal… kid growing up. I’m not talking ‘fun’ abnormal. I’m talking ‘Hey Edith, what the hell is wrong with that kid?’ abnormal. I rarely spoke to strangers, I was scared to death of what other people thought of me, and quite frankly I had no clue how to deal with people.
Most of that I blame on my grandmother, who while being a wonderful provider and surrogate mother, had very – strange – ideas on how a young boy should be raised. Not saying she did bad, just saying she may have made a couple of missteps.
Regardless, in the middle of all that, I obtained employment at a nearby McDonald’s. One of the managers there was one Robert Shea Beatty.
Now normally, one with a cool level of 10, like Rob had, would not even associate with a smelly, dopey looking mother fucker like myself. However Rob seemed to see that this fat kid had potential, but lacked some serious self-esteem and was far too concerned with ‘what the neighbors would think’ than what really mattered:
What was fun.
After all, isn’t that what makes life worth living?
Rob encouraged me to be myself. To be the real me, to not worry about what people thought. That rejection from one person is simply an opportunity to try it with another, and that if you’re not enjoying your life, then you’re doing it wrong.
He encouraged me to try new things and to not be scared of the unknown. He (among others) pushed me to my fullest and encouraged me to keep moving on my TV dreams.
He’d probably slap the shit out of me now if he were still alive…
Regardless, who I am, as a person, I owe greatly in part due to Rob. I miss the drama we shared back in Springfield. I miss the conspiring we were doing on potential joint projects for when he got done with his own schooling in Seattle. I miss the opportunity to enjoy coffee from his coffee business he was planning on starting.
Most of all, Rob, I miss you.