Thursday, September 2, 2010

Another Empty Chair

"The Shadow" also known as the Shadow Warrior, Mad Mike and occasionally less flattering names, was a good friend of mine. He's pictured here, next to his Toyota FJ Cruiser (The Raptor) at the Top of the World near Moab, UT. I was there when the photo was taken by a guy we call Dragon. (I'm Scary Larry)

We buried Mad Mike yesterday at his home in Yellville, Arkansas. A few of his old buddies were there, and there were people from the town and his and his wife's families who were also there to say good-bye. As a pall bearer, carrying his clay to its final resting place was an honor, but it was something I never thought I'd do.

Sometimes I do dangerous things. Last April I asked Mad Mike to aid my family in spreading my ashes in the event of my demise. There are a few places my family hasn't ever visited and they are some of my very favorite places on the planet. Mad Mike knew those spots. We were shooting in Arkansas in May of this year and running around like a couple of old war dogs.

In June, doctors diagnosed him with cancer and he died last Sunday. It took him quickly, but not without considerable pain.

I could tick off the name of friends of mine who have died young. Mike was four years younger than I am, meaning "young". The list is not inconsequential. A lot of my friends lived hard. And sometimes I fancy myself sitting at a large dinner table, surrounded by their ghosts. We're all eating and swapping lies. (consider Valhalla and Odin's corpse hall) But mine is the only seat still filled with a breathing human. The vision is not disconcerting. But Mike died in the hospital without a weapon in his hand and part of me is bothered by that. It's not a religious thing - it's a warrior thing. Arkansas is a long way from the ocean so we couldn't put him on a Viking ship, set the sail and light it on fire as it rode the waves into the deep.

However his wife tells the story of Mike, when he was admitted into hospice where he was well cared for until he died. His wife asked him what they'd do if he wasn't cared for properly (because they didn't know what to expect). True to form, Mad Mike made a pistol shape with his hand and said, "Bang -- they'll disappear."

RIP old friend : Fair Winds and Following Seas!


WoFat said...

From what you tell me of this man, he did not coast. He ran, full tilt, at life. R.I.P.

AmandaFienPhotography said...

Dad, I'm sorry your friend died...death is never an easy thing to deal with.

darlin said...

I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your dear friend LL, my condolences. Mike sounds like he was one heck of a fun guy and an awesome friend to you. R.I.P. Mike.

Xmichra said...

I am very sorry to hear of your freinds passing. I would have thought that even though no physical weapon was present, the internal battle he must have had against the cancer (in my mind, the big bad) was surely packin' heat.

He sounded like a really great friend. And one who would love to be at that table, even in ghost form to bug the crap out of you ;)

(((hugs from afar)))

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