In death - much like comedy and politics - timing is everything.
And my timing sucks.
I was planning to visit a sick aunt on July 7 four years ago. My flight was 9:00 am; she passed at 3:30 am.
I was planning to visit my father for Labor Day two years ago; he passed on August 26th.
So I sure wasn't expecting, as I was tracking down my friend Mark Kilmer, that he had passed away back in February.
In fact, I came across it while thinking, "Gee, I haven't heard from Mark in awhile, maybe I should find his e-mail address."
That's because, during our younger years, Mark and I were partners on the Comedy BB on Prodigy, first as MemReps and then as board leaders.
It wasn't always an easy partnership - Mark was very conservative, and I...was not. We never argued - in fact, one of Mark's best qualities was his ability to put up with my obnoxious liberalism. And his wit and humor, which we both shared, and which we used to best advantage on those early bulletin boards.
Exchanging Monty Python quotes. Creating "M.G. Emmper", a fictional silent film star. Or even making fun of an individual at a particular domain, asking him how to post on Usenet. (I still chuckle at the phrase "basement newsnet"). Debating the merits of Danny Bonaduce vs. Donny Osmond (they were engaged in boxing at the time). And always using our catchphrase ROCK THE HOUSE, or VOTE OR DIE.
(Attention, P. Diddy - you owe me and Diane, Mark's widow, royalties. Tons of them).
(And never forget the Church of Kotyk, where those DAM ROTTON KIDS will get FEEFINED, no question ask)
What made us work wasn't the difference in politics - but that we were bound by a much stronger love of humor. We had our differences, but we simply acknowledged them...and moved on. Unfortunately, thanks to a rather obnoxious gentleman, Mark was asked to leave. (Simply put, Mark was provoked by an unrepeatable statement about his mother soon after her passing. Details are best left in the past). But even after he left Prodigy, we still kept in touch.
After a particularly nasty romantic break-up, Mark (amongst many friends) was a huge support. We kept in touch, and the last note I have from him was a remark about how flattered - and honored - he was because I used a stamp with a picture of his personal hero. Even as he got increasingly ill towards the end of last year, he attempted to stay in touch, supporting my decision to move back to take care of Mom (I always thought of you as a Chicago guy, he once remarked).
And like a fool, I got a little too busy to keep track - so busy that when the end came, I was oblivious. But maybe that's the point - I need the occasional reminder that we only have today, and that sometimes, the best of friends comes from great differences as well as strong similarities.
It may be seven months late, pal, but I'll keep Diane (your wife) and your family in my prayers.
Good bye, pal. I'll miss you.