Have you ever had a few minutes and wondered what happened to a former lover, childhood friend, teacher? As I’m sure most people have, I’ve been ‘googled’ by a few people in the past and have, on occasion, tried to look up old friends to see what they are up to.
One of these friends was Brian, someone who I had spent my year and a half in Slovakia with. We started out as enemies — we went to college together and for various reasons, did not get along for the 2 years we knew each other in school. But, somehow as fate would have it, we wound up as neighbors living in East Slovakia. Being stuck together at the edge of the then ‘free world’ and our love of the Slovak language culture and people made us the best of friends.
I had kept up with Brian for a few years after leaving Slovakia and unfortunately lost touch with him when I left for Japan. I did hear from some friends in Slovakia that he had become a father and was working on his PhD, but aside from that, I was left to my own devices to see how he was doing.
Each year since I’ve been back from Japan, I google Brian. It’s always around the middle of November, because that’s when I came back from Slovakia and feel the most nostalgic for my time there. This year in particular I really wanted to contact him because I’ve started going through my memories of that year and writing essays that may eventually make their way into a book someday. Almost every essay includes Brian in some way or another.
I typed his name into the search engine box and finally had success.
I felt so happy to come across him! I found out that he’d won a Fulbright Scholarship and was doing well in his career. I was so excited to see that there was an article about him in a professional newsletter, that is, until I started reading more closely….
It turns out that 11 months ago Brian passed away.
The article was a tribute to his memory and contributions to his field of study. I don’t know the specifics of his passing, but when I found out, I spent the whole afternoon in tears. It’s so sad that I just when I finally had found him, Brian was already gone.
I haven’t yet figured out how to contact his wife and kids to let them know how great there dad was and how sorry I am for their loss. But now I have become more determined than ever to write down those Slovak stories…
I dedicate this post in honor of a dear friend who — even though I haven’t seen him for over ten years — impacted my life so greatly.