Monday, September 15, 2003

RIP William Jay "Bill" Busby

My fiancĂ©e and I met a few days ago with the woman who will be officiating our ceremony. Over the course of our long discussion, she asked if either of us had lost anyone we would like specifically mentioned during the ceremony. My mind immediately leapt to the grandparents I’ve lost. Neither Tif, nor I, had ever lost a close friend. She was stunned; virtually every couple she’d ever met with had at least one loss of close high school friend or college buddy. We’d been fortunate.

Late Friday, our friend Bill died in a car accident. We found out Saturday morning while in New Hampshire checking out the site to which our jobs are being moved. I didn’t know how to react to the news. Still don’t.

Bill and I were the late shift at work last summer. We went to Stuffies for a beer almost every night after work. He was in the process of coming out of a long relationship, though he didn’t realize it at first, and we spent hours discussing his situation with Sue. About that time, I started dating Tif and he heard me out as I tried to analyze here every utterance for clues as to whether my feelings would be reciprocated. We were unlikely comrades, I think, our personalities and experience about as different as possible. He was an aggressive self-promoter, a born salesman who was the rising star in our sales driven work environment. He was, like most of us, a bit of an enigma. For all his braggadocio, his insecurities weren’t hard to spot. It was an odd mix. For all his drive to succeed, he didn’t seem to have any idea what he wanted. For all the energy he put into going out and socializing, he was, at times, as miserable a bastard as you’d ever run across. Not sure why, but one of my enduring memories of him is certain to be his softball swing. Kid would stand with his back foot even with the front of the plate and swing at balls chin high or higher, and jerk one after another foul – not just a little foul, but way foul, deep into the woods. Pitch after pitch, never moving back in the box, never laying off a pitch unless totally unreachable with the bat. Eventually he’d either pop out or hit a home run.

I’m not going to go through the list of memories. I’m going to try to stop thinking about the horrible details of what happened to him: he walked/staggered/crawled away from the crash depending on which report you read. Apparently motorists on the other side of the highway stopped and were trying to get to him, calling out for him to stay near his car but he either didn’t hear them, or had already collapsed in the high speed lane. He was struck and killed by a driver who kept right on going and hasn’t been found yet. I almost threw up when I heard that. I could throw up now. I get torn up thinking about his brother and parents trying to cope with this. The services are tomorrow. He and his brother were supposed to come to my bachelor party this weekend. We watched football together last Sunday. I was looking forward to throwing down a shot with him at the bar at my wedding. When a buddy broke his leg playing hockey, he called Bill from the hospital at 2am and even though Bill had an interview early in the morning he’d have to drive two hours to get to, he went and brought him home from the hospital. He was a pain in the ass sometimes. He was a good guy though. No doubt. He will be missed.
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