I met Graham when I was about 4, after sharing a mutual friend from daycare, Adam Reed; he lived across a green belt that separated his and Adam's houses, and we had a great time messing around with Adam's turtles. 21 years later, the last time I would see Graham would be at Adam's wedding, having fun again an looking good.
It's not the sad symmetry to our first and final meetings, both now happy and heartfelt memories, that immediately struck me when I heard the news of his passing. It was a profound sense of frustration because he was so close to finally finding what he had always been looking for.
When Graham and I were 7, I was lucky enough to be invited over to his house for the first time (probably by default, because Adam was not available). Why I can immediately recall such a memory is the image of gold coins - plastic gold coins as well as pieces of metal that served as Graham's treasure. Graham's reasoning at the time: he had found and kept these objects, so they must exist out there in the world naturally to be found in his yard. Using treasure maps pretended out of the loose bark of trees, we scoured his yard digging in select locations - locations all chosen by suspect bleeps on a tiny metal detector.
Graham was the first one to introduce such a notion to me: that whatever you wanted could just be found in the world around you. Graham was actually first in a lot of ways growing up - still always searching for new and better things to serve as his treasure.
I can't claim to have known Graham intimately over the 21-year span that we had known each other. Though we shared a school for 13 years and a post-highschool job for 3 years, Graham and I drifted apart, to new friends, new cliques, and new girls. When we would cross paths and reminisce about the things we had done and saw growing up, we would always laugh. Though we had become different people with different lifestyles, we would always laugh.
The last time we would reminisce, at Adam's wedding, we laughed and talked excitedly about how far he had come; he had found sobriety and a lovely woman in the process. Graham was so close to fulfilling that hunt we had started 17 years before. One bad night, one slip-up, cost him everything - cost him the second chance he deserved.
The only comfort I take is that the restless hunter I once knew through life, is now at peace.
I think I am going to look around my yard for awhile... He knows what I might find.