In Memory Of William Gorman
In life, I have found very, very few people whom I can honestly say that have
became lasting friends of mine. And out of the few that have, no one perhaps has
come as close to me in life as has my very first and closest friend I have ever
known. William Gorman was his name. Though he was primarily known as "Bubba" or
"Bubby" to me. William was the epitome of the definition of friendship.
While growing up, I had relocated many times. And in the course of my experiences
I have encountered numerous persons in life. Despite all of that, William was the
only constant friend I knew. Always loyal and never pretentious, he was a
true treasure in a world of fool's gold. A very noble and humane soul if there
ever was one with an excellent sense of humor
(if anyone can truly make me laugh, I consider it an accomplishment).
Growing up in Southwest Philadelphia, we were kindred spirits of sorts. Each of us distinct from the rest of the collective it seemed. And it was this tie that binds that drew and kept us together through all sorts of misadventures. In 1983 when I was 12, my family relocated to the suburbs and then another 3 years later, to Wildwood, New Jersey. Being a staunch "individualist", I found it hard to adapt and to make new friends keeping company to myself and enjoying it throughout most of my childhood. Despite the increased distance and lapses of time between the occasions we would "hang out", I was pleased to discover that these elements were not a factor in our friendship. True, as the years progressed we would only get together intermittently at best. But it was irrelevent. The quality and not the quantity was what really mattered.
By the early 1990's, William had went off to school at Penn State in State College and I was traveling creation so we did not have much contact with each other. Perhaps during the summertime we would get in touch but when we did it was only for a short period of time. I regret that immensely...we always had much to discuss. And William was my only connection to my life in Philadelphia. No one else from there did I manage to sustain ties with. The last occasion the two of us met alive was in January 1992. I was in the Philadelphia area for a visit before heading out to Wisconsin for a time. I along with some friends, stopped over to visit William just before my departure. It was late but, he was home and we talked for a few minutes. The conversation was seemingly trivial but it was far from that. I realized that no one else I had met in life could ever relate to me in the manner that he did. When you have known someone since the age of 2, very few things are concealed. I was fortunate to have William as such a friend.
In March of 1994, amidst a lot of calamity in my personal life I had received word that William was not very well. He took a leave of absence from school for a time beset with a fulminating fever. Though his illness resembled the flu, it was much more serious. 2 years had elapsed since we last contacted each other so, I was not fully aware of everything. When it became apparent that this was a severe life threatening illness, it was obvious I had to see him. On March 13, 1994, the night before I was to visit him - William passed away. No words could ever describe the loss of someone who shared so much of your life with you. Fully knowing that for the rest of your life, never again will the phone ring for you from your lifelong friend...never again can one look forward to "the next time we meet". The funeral was the most tragic event I had ever witnessed. I had encountered people from my youth I had not seen in over 10 years. But under the most horrible circumstances, none of it really mattered. When I had left for home after the funeral, I recall strongly how stark the sunset was that day. I was sitting in the back of a truck with an enclosure, going over the Walt Whitman bridge home and struck with an overwhelming sense of sobriety. My very best friend... was gone.
I succumbed to a sense of despair over the loss. For years and to this day, I think very often of William and how burdensome it is to lose someone you care for. Not that this experience was the first of its kind for me but, the most personal. One chooses one's friends...and likewise. For me, being a private individual, I was fully aware of the rarity of finding and knowing someone whom you can truly bare your soul with. The world is an arduous place. It does not hurt to have someone to help you through the twists and turns. And to share the rewards and dividends with. "Bubby" was one of them.
"To allow friendship to die away from silence and neglect is certainly unwise. It is to voluntarily throw away one of the greatest comforts we can have on this weary pilgrimage."
The One remains, the many change and pass; Heaven's light forever shines, Earth's shadows fly; Life, like a dome of many-colour'd glass, Stains the white radiance of Eternity, Until Death tramples it to fragments.--Die, If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek! Follow where all is fled!--Rome's azure sky, Flowers, ruins, statues, music, words, are weak The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak.
That Light whose smile kindles the Universe,
That Beauty in which all things work and move,
That Benediction which the eclipsing Curse
Of birth can quench not, that sustaining Love
Which through the web of being blindly wove
By man and beast and earth and air and sea,
Burns bright or dim, as each are mirrors of
The fire for which all thirst; now beams on me,
Consuming the last clouds of cold mortality. "