We show our feeling for [deceased] friends, not by wailing, but by pleasant recollection.- Epicurus
I have officially lost a loved one to coronavirus.
Ramón was one of my dad’s best friends for over 50 years, since before I was born. He was in his late 80’s, recently widowed, and living in a home for the elderly in New York which was hit especially hard by the coronavirus. I just learned of his death from my brother, who received a call from Ramon’s daughter in New York.
Ramón died on March 31st, and due to the health crisis he did not get a proper burial, but must’ve been laid to rest in a mass burial by the city of New York.
I didn’t know it at the time but he may have been among the dead for whom these mass graves were dug that I saw in the news. But, as Philodemus advises, what matters is not the manner of death and burial. What matters is the manner of life he lived.
My memories are of a kind old man who had a big smile and who used to play dominoes with my dad and joke about their age. Their friendship has always served as a model for me of what a great friendship should be. It was very easy for them to laugh together over almost anything. As they aged together, they made fun of each other’s bodies: can you count how many hairs you have left on top of your head? Could you light up an avenue in New York with your gold tooth?
Their friendship spanned decades and involved migrations and visits. He travelled for my parents’ 25-year wedding anniversary … and then their 50-year anniversary. He was with us during Hurricane Hugo. I came to see Ramon as part of my family. He had a deep hoary black-old-man voice and his laughter was like thunder.
I am writing this in his memory because he will never be just another coronavirus statistic. As long as he is remembered and his laughter remains contagious, his friendship is, in a way, immortal.