A few days ago I received news that my best friend of 23 years had passed away, hopefully peacefully in his sleep. Saying goodbye is the most heart-wrenching thing I’ll ever have to do. I loved him more than a brother, a husband, or a lover. I love him with every fiber of my being.
Let me go back 23 years to when a flamboyant and boisterous man crashed into my life. At first I was terrified of him. I was only 17 and very unsure of very sure people. Patrick was sure of many things: himself, his sexual identity, his spiritual beliefs, his need to push the buttons of unsure people. He pushed all of my buttons, at once. Little by little he became an ever-present force in my life. Always there with words of sarcasm, wisdom, and often words of diabolically truthful nonsense. He made me believe that I too could be this sure.
Life is fleeting, uncertain. He and I spent many hours discussing this very thing. We went through marriages together, divorces together, spiritual awakenings together, and cutting disappointments together. And never did we lose each other. I eventually moved 1100 miles away. But always stayed true to our bond. Just last week we were talking about getting together when I fly home.
He taught me so much about life and love. He taught me that gay men don’t always look like gay men. Or act like gay men. They are just men who love. That love is an inalienable right. He fought for his right to love the way he wanted to love. I learned to be able to accept my worth because of him. He touched many lives in much the same way. His passion for equality gave me strength to fight for equality.
When we went out everyone assumed we were married. But we were better than married, we were/ARE soul mates. Not romantic soul mates, but that deeply connected friendship soul mates. His essence is and always will be a huge part of me. Memories of our 20+ years are flooding my mind. The majority of the strange experiences in my life were with him.
Here are a few of the things we experienced together that were beyond normal:
- One of his former roommates was beyond disgusting and eccentric. He had this freeze dried zebra head named Smiley. I was trapped in the room with said roommate and the lopsided smile of frozen Smiley. Patrick, being Patrick, made sure I did not escape until I had truly been traumatized by the experience. And every time he wanted to torture me he’d make the “zebra face”. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a friend who will understand his power to make me run screaming from a room like that of a freeze dried zebra head impersonation.
- His first date with his ex-husband was at a funeral we attended together. This funeral was for a friend. And every time we’d meet someone new we’d tell the tale of Mary Katherine’s funeral with the tiny sewn pig farm we put in her casket, the pain of being a pal bearer for a 434 lb. woman, and the supernatural way my car stalled when a friend the deceased didn’t like wanted to hitch a ride from us. That marriage lasted for 7 years. And he never truly recovered from it.
- We studied Tibetan Buddhism together. Travelling around the Midwest to different monasteries. Often we would have to be separated during the teachings because having the same random thoughts at the same time made us too giggly for such serious endeavors. Especially that one time we both began singing the same Diana Ross song. And our chant when we were unsure of the Sanskrit words was, “My head is made of cheese.” I think people thought we were terrible Buddhists.
- There was that time we made out on top of a plate of brownies because who knows why. It was very unsatisfying for both of us and we never made out again. But it made for a great story he liked to tell people when they met me for the first time. I was always the “Brownie Slut.” This was during a time when he and I were High Priestess and High Priest of a coven. Our love of spirituality that communes with the natural world kept us close. It was the core of our relationship. We made each other better people.
- That time I took him to see Rat Race and he almost had cardiac arrest during the Klaus Barbie scene. He literally fell out of his seat laughing. No one else in the theater got the joke. But Patrick was a WWII aficionado and knew pretty much everything there was to know about the war, the weapons, the planes, everything. We spent many a night eating spaghetti and watching WWII documentaries in his living room.
- Knowing my love for Frank Zappa, every time he saw anything Zappa related he bought it for me. Well, actually every time he saw something done in poor taste and offensive humor, he bought it for me. I have countless vulgar T-Shirts that he gave me. Most I can’t wear in public.
- We both independently decided to go to nursing school at the same time. Then suddenly we had another deep bond, our love of being nurses. He was built to be a nurse. His compassion was palpable. He was beyond smart. He could read something and recall it exactly 20 years later. I was always amazed and proud of his accomplishments. Even if he didn’t see how amazing he was.
The outpouring of love I see for him right now is probably something of a shock to him from beyond the veil. He thought himself a loner. Often a loser. But he sprinkled fairy dust on every person he encountered and they were better for it. He was so much more than he gave himself credit for.
We made plans, unfulfilled dreams, pondering meanderings. It is my purpose in life to see these things through, for him. Because he couldn’t. And now can’t. I’m still here to carry out every hair-brained idea we ever had. There is so much more I could write. But honestly, this is the most difficult thing I’ve ever put down into words. I will leave it as just this. It is vague and incomplete. He would appreciate that.
I love you and will miss your presence in my life, L. Patrick Foster. But I know you are now free of this Samsara. Go and find enlightenment in the great beyond, in the Summerlands. May your next incarnation be happy and true.