God-friends-cancer

I love you more than…

I love you more than you will ever know.

Those were among the final words my friend Ted spoke to me when we were together just before he died from esophageal cancer two years ago.

I told him that I knew how much he loved me, and I believed I had a pretty good idea; we had been good friends for more than thirty years. During his illness, we spoke every day, sometimes two or three times. I knew he loved me.God-friends-cancerMy friend Lisa recently told me of the death of one of her guy friends. She was devastated by this loss and inconsolable in her grief.

Good guy friends are great gifts. They are also not all that common—which makes them even more precious.

My friend Jim used to tell me that he believed I had good friendships with men because I grew up with brothers (one older and one younger). He believed that growing up with brothers taught me to accept both the gangster and the vulnerable sides of a guy.God-friends-cancerI would agree and add, “My brothers taught me to have realistic expectations of men.”

One of the relationships I kept up after I left the FBI was with an agent named Bob Hickey—formally known as Robert J. Hickey, Jr. For ten years after I left the Bureau, Bob and I got together regularly, even though he lived in Washington, D.C., and I was in Philadelphia. Our friendship was important to both of us, and we dedicated time and energy to keeping it alive.

Bob encouraged me in my running, and we often ran the Mall in D.C.  I remember a run on one of his visits to Philadelphia; I wanted to quit, and he kept urging me to go on. The run ended at a bridge over a railroad track, and running up that hill seemed impossible. “It’ll build character,” Bob prodded, which was just the dare I needed to dig deep for the last burst of energy. It is also a line that has inspired me when I have faced other challenges.God-friends-cancerThen I moved to Canada, and Bob married a woman who seemed a tad bit jealous of our friendship. I tried to reassure her that while I loved Bob dearly, I did not want to marry him, and that I was happy for them. But, things were different after he got married.

Bob loved all things Irish—music, dance, literature—and he loved to visit his relatives in Ireland. The last time we spoke, I was planning my trip to Ireland in August. He was happy for me.

Bob died last summer. Since learning of his death, I have been recalling wonderful memories of our friendship, and I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude. Just thinking of him makes me smile. Like Ted, Jim and the other men who have blessed my life, his friendship brought me great joy.

I love you more than you will ever know.God-friends-cancer

 

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8 thoughts on “I love you more than…

  1. dslyon

    Sniff sniff….Bob was lovingly referred to as “Sugar Bear” by us gals in that FBI “steno pool.” He was honorable, tough and a straight arrow, but we all sensed that sweet cuddly bear cub under his big Irish moustache. Rest in peace Sugar Bear. (He’s mighty proud of you Madeline.)

    Reply
    1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

      I agree, Anne Marie, that each and every friendship is a treasure. I have been so blessed in my life with wonderful friends. I used to say that if there was an Olympic category for friends, I would win the golf.

      Reply
  2. S wallace

    I too have lost 3 male friends in the last three years. Each one totally different, but each one taught me something different and my life has been enriched from their friendships. I feel very lucky to have known each of them. Madeline you have a way with words. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

      Sherry, Although I know how different each of my guy friends is, when I am remembering them after they have died, my vision seems to be clearer and I can see the gift of each very distinctly. Perhaps it is the gift of perspective. As when God is acting in our lives, it is often easier to see it clearly from the distance of time having passed.

      Reply
  3. Lee

    This touches my heart. I have had a few male “friends” that I were very special. Recently my husband and I went out of the country for two weeks and during that time my special friend was diagnosed with lung cancer – he passed the same week. His wife told me on a Thursday he was sick, we returned to US on Friday, and he was gone. I never got to say good bye, never got to give him “crap” about getting sick (which I would have done), never got to tell him how I felt about our friendship. Too much left unsaid. There have been so many times since then that I have wanted to talk to him, needed his perspective, his advice. Hard to find male friends like that .. I totally trusted his opinions, thoughts and felt free to argue and banter with him and just be me. A great loss in my life. Glad to hear that you kept up with “sugar bear”. He was one of a kind!!

    Reply
    1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

      Lee, So sorry for your loss. When Jim got sick–suddenly–it was a wake-up for me to tell people what they meant to me. It is easy to let relationships slide, to let things go unsaid, important things. One of the great gifts of loving someone and trusting his advice is that I know what he would say. I can hear Jim’s voice and Ted’s voice especially, but even Bob Hickey’s voice in my head. I still carry them in my heart and still rely on their wisdom.

      Reply

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