I remember

He had a silver ID bracelet with his initials in fancy font and some nonsensical phrase I can’t remember etched on the other side- a tribute to bands, behaviors, a decade of his life and a personal motto I never knew.

Persevering through several moves was a beat-up old bookshelf. On the top of that bookshelf always sat (always) a cheap silver frame of two boys, best friends, possibly 8 years old. The frame was autographed ("Richard James Tyler") by his friend (
on the right, goofy grin) in permanent black marker that had begun to rub off years ago.

His best, childhood friend (on the right, goofy grin) actually died Over There, after receiving a medal, and the medal had been sent to him by the parents, according to special instructions thoughtfully (morbidly?) made before the friend shipped out.

Three possessions lending peace and permanence to an ever-changing life, shaping his identity, guarding his heart.

We hadn’t spoken for years when we ran into each other at the pub. Conversation stumbled, smoothed out, was bathed in the relief of finding our old familiar rhythm. Hours passed, affectionate gestures were exchanged, it was assumed we’d see each other the next evening. Where was this going? Was the connection just as solid as it had been? Would a life-altering decision once again be placed on the table?

The next morning a cardboard box was delivered- small, white, with folded-in flaps like the steamed rice containers from the local Chinese place. I opened the box and pulled back a layer of robin's egg blue tissue paper to reveal a silver ID bracelet with his initials etched in fancy font. Another layer of tissue paper shielded a silver picture frame of two boys, best friends, possibly 8 years old. As I pulled away the last layer of blue paper and recognized the medal it became clear that he was Serious, this was a Big Deal, and I had a Major Decision to Make. I held the bracelet, the frame and the medal out in front of me and realized: by making his three most prized possessions mine, he was handing me his long-guarded heart, the keys to everything he held dear. The decision? A no-brainer.

Whew, dreams are funny, aren't they?

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