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  • Heather’s story made me go back and look at this earlier posting, and I re-wrote it, considerably. Early on, I was trying so hard to limit my words in my stories, I was leaving out a lot of important details. I added a few back in to this one, as I felt they were important. This is a story of true friendship. I had a best friend named Reed. This is about our friendship, more than anything else.

    I was up near the ceiling, looking down at the body lying on the floor outside the bathroom, in the upstairs hallway of the old farmhouse in Conneciticut. Several people were huddled around the body, excitedly talking to it, shaking it, checking to see if he was breathing.

    I was incredibly calm - calmer than I could remember feeling, ever in my life. I felt like I was in one of those lucid dreams that you have - but I knew this wasn't a dream. When I heard them saying my name, it confirmed what was slowly dawning on me. Yeah, that's me down there! I actually felt rather nonchalant about that. I really liked how I felt at that moment.. Until then, I hadn’t realized what a struggle I’d been going through. I had been “sober” for over a year and a half, but for the previous year or so, had been dabbling with several mood-altering things, convinced that my real problem was alcohol. That’s what I was getting in the AA meetings, anyway.

    They picked my body up, and carried it towards the bedroom door down at the end of the hallway. They took it into the bedroom. I stayed right where I was, outside of the bathroom up near the ceiling. I was just floating there, feeling fine. It did occur to me that I might be on my way out, but I really didn’t care, one way or the other. It was o.k. It wasn’t that I wanted to die – I was enjoying my life, for the most part. It had gotten a lot better than it had been a year and a half before, when I’d first started attempts to sober up, and gone through a suicidal period, then.

    All I knew, as I floated in my nonchalant state of mind, was I was o.k. with whatever happened. I felt very warm, protected and not alone. Then, I felt something drawing me down that hallway, and then I was in the room. Still kind of floating. My friends were on either side of the bed, where my body lay sprawled out on its back. The level of anxiety among them had increased considerably - David kept saying my name, and shaking me, talking to me, "Come on Peter, stay with us, snap out of it, man, we need you here, come on, don’t leave us, we love you, my friend". There was crying and excitement, but I was still very calm, just observing it all, o.k. with it all.

    Reed just sat calmly in a chair opposite the foot of the bed, looking right at me. At me. Not my body. I felt it, felt him, it was a strange sensation. He could see me. He was the one who drew me back in there, from down the hallway. That incredible personal strength that he had always had, that wierd psychic connection that we had, had drawn me back. Next thing I knew, I was back in my body, opening my eyes, and looking at him, and there was that connection. I still felt very calm. That would stay with me for quite awhile. Whatever had happened, changed me.

    I’d ingested a little too much of what had been passing around at the party. Normally, you would snort it, but it was late July, some of it had melted together, so I’d eaten it – then ate some more when I didn’t feel anything. Then had felt nauseous and gone up to the bathroom to be sick. Then, was on that ceiling.

    They started to take me to the hospital to get checked out, but I managed to convince them that I was o.k. The next day, Reed drove me down to the Greyhound Bus station, we said our goodbyes, and that was the last time I would see him alive. I remember feeling a great sadness as we parted. As soon as I got on the bus, I met Wendy. To this day, I am convinced that she was an angel. Not like that. She was real, and alive. But, she was an angel. She carried me to New York City, and sent me on my way to Philadelphia from there.

    Five days later I got the call from David. “Peter. You need to listen to me. We need you up here. I know you were just here. It’s Reed. He just died. We need you here.” He had succumbed to pneumonia, and with his weakened system from fighting the Hodgkins Disease, he just didn't make it. I hadn’t cried in many years before that moment. I just completely lost it. A deluge of tears. He was my best friend. We’d had a connection I hadn’t had with many people. Something had happened that previous weekend that I did not understand, but I knew that he was the main reason I was still here.

    It would be years before I could even talk about what happened that night. I just didn't have any context in which to convey it, or to make any sense out of it. I thought for sure people would think I was completely nuts if I ever tried. It was only after several years of recovery from addiction that it finally came out.

    He stuck around for the beginning of my journey towards getting well. He helped me out. I once swore I saw him looking in through the window of a meeting room. Then, one night, I had a dream, and in the dream, he was trying to say goodbye, but I couldn’t make it out. It was confusing. The next day, at work in the restaurant, on break, a waiter I had only recently met, sat down across the booth from me, and said this:

    “I know you’re going to think this is kind of strange, but just hear me out, and try not to react. Your friend - from the dream - wanted you to know that he has to leave now. He said that he thought you were going to be o.k., now. He wanted to make sure that you got the message.”

    That was my best friend’s way of saying goodbye. I’ve never had a friend quite like Reed. I was lucky to have him.
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