I met Che the summer after I graduated from high school. We were both 17 and working at Fuddruckers full time. We didn't hit it off right at first...we were both very stubborn and often didn't see eye to eye on things. Over time and the fact that we saw each other at work almost every day we became close friends. There was a group of about 8 of us who all worked together and being that we were the young ones at Fudds working full time we gravitated to towards each other.
Daegen, Mike, Brad, Che and I were inseparable and could often be found driving around in Daegen's Festiva listening to music, playing cards after a late night closing shift or just hanging around at someones house. We were on the top of the world and thought nothing would ever bring us down.
Che had the biggest,brown eyes you ever saw and a mop of unruly wavy brown hair that somehow always looked fantastic. He always had a big grin for his friends and was always interested in what you were up to. He cared immensely for his family and friends and I dare say would have done anything for them. He made everyone around him comfortable and was always up for a laugh or a good conversation.
A year after I met Che he was in a serious car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Our world came crashing down and we knew that life would never, ever be the same. Overnight we went from being carefree teens to adults.
Che struggled with what had happened to him but he persevered. From him I learned that life goes on and that you make the best of it with the hand you are dealt. He didn't complain (to us at least). He went on in life to be a very successful artist. He taught us all that life is precious and should not be taken for granted. He showed us that no matter what you can still dream big and reach your goals.
As often happens, we all grew apart and went our separate ways. Some of us moved away to go to school, some got married and others started careers. I would from time to time bump into Che and his face would light up and I would know that he was glad to see me. He was one of those people that you could go with out seeing for a long time, yet the conversation left off from the last time you saw him as if you had seen him only yesterday.
Che passed away this week at the age of 36. It is unfathomable to me that he should leave this world at such a young age. He touched so many people in his short time here. I will never forget him or the times we shared. When I look back at the most memorable times of life...I will remember fondly that Che was a part of it, He had a huge impact on me and I never had a chance to tell him. My mind tells me there is a reason why he was taken so soon, it will just take my heart a while to understand.
Che, my friend, you are loved and will be missed.