There was a fourth friend who helped to paint my car in yesterday's story. And as I hit the "post" button, I immediately felt sorrow for not having included him. His name was Joshua John Edwards, and we lost him to addiction in 2013.
My journey with Josh began freshman year of college. While we were both in the theatre department, it was on the volleyball court that we found ourselves inseparable. Previous to college, I had been no athlete, but somehow on the court with Josh, I felt strong and capable.
He taught me about brotherhood while also teaching me about demons. I seemed to have so few, he seemed to have so many. He once shared with me that the nuns at his school would lock him in a closet because he could be so disruptive.
Josh was one of those people who could quickly take to anything. Guitar, dance, academics. He didn't have to study, he just quickly absorbed and assimilated. That left him feeling bored much of the time and he filled his boredom with troublemaking.
It was Josh who pushed me to risk more in life, in love, and definitely with drugs. He wasn't a good influence, and yet he was also a profoundly wonderful influence. He taught me courage. He taught me about the depths of friendship. And then he taught me the power of self loathing and pain.
There came a time in LA when a number of my friends ran into hardcore addictions. I tried to slow down a number of them. I hosted an intervention with one who had a new baby. I was the vocal one. But in the end, I was also the one to say enough and walk away.
I didn't know Josh in his final years. I heard only about him through a mutual friend who had journeyed through addiction with Josh and understood him in ways I never could. It was this friend who told me of his passing three years ago.
For whatever reason, Josh's mother didn't reach out to tell any of his friends, and so we learned about his passing a month after he was put to rest. A group of six or seven of us got together on Skype from all over the country to spend time reflecting on our journeys with Josh, to share our memories, express our anger, and remind ourselves of the deep love we held for one another.
We grew up together at a formative time in our lives. Life still seemed safe to me during college. And it felt safe in LA with Josh by my side, until it didn't. Until it felt very unsafe.
I feel grateful for Josh. I also still harbor anger for some of what came to pass during our travels together. He was my greatest champion, and also the one who knew how to tear me down when his own pain was great and he needed a comrade in the depths with him.
He is forever a part of me. And today it is with bittersweet joy that I share him with you.