A Thanksgiving Letter to my Friends

An open letter to all of my friends on the occasion of Thanksgiving 2014:

Two days ago, November 25, 2014, marked the 8th anniversary of the death of my friend, Ian Mastel.

Ian and I met in the 7th grade and sat next to each other in band class. I hated playing in the band, but I did not hate sitting next to Ian. The greatest gift God bestowed on Ian was his sense of humor. Ian made the miserable experience of playing trombone in the junior high band bearable. He could easily make me laugh. When it was not our turn to play, we would quote Monty Python with full British accents. We did this so frequently that we would catch ourselves slipping into British accents in normal conversation.

In the 8th grade, Ian became sick and missed a lot of school. His absence made band class difficult to endure. Then, on November 25, 2006, Ian passed away. Without Ian and without the hope that he would return, band became completely miserable. His death left a void in my life.

When I think of Ian, I often hear two lines of the song "Big Yellow Taxi":

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got 'til it's gone

I often find myself wishing I had appreciated Ian more when he was alive. I wish I had recognized the gift of humor he brought in my life and how his sense of humor had improved the quality of my life. And, I wish I could have been a better friend to him.

A few days ago, I was reflecting on all of this, and I made the decision to not be sad on the anniversary of his death. I decided I would, instead, be grateful.

So, on this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the life of Ian and that I had the opportunity to get to know him. I am thankful for his sense of humor and the relief it brought me. Most importantly, I am thankful for the friends I have now. I want to especially thank you, my friends, for being my friends. I do not want to find myself wishing I had appreciated you more, so I am taking the opportunity now to thank you in a public manner. I want you to know that you are an important part of my life.

Lastly, as a Thanksgiving gift, I want you all to enjoy the humor of the Monty Python sketch Ian and I quoted most often, the Argument Clinic:

In gratitude,

-Alex R. Hey