Quietly replacing the extinguished passion of our past bittersweet romance,
was a deep friendship that would last for almost 60 years. Who was it
that said, "Youth is wasted on the young?"
Not until years later did Herman tell me, without rancor-an emotion unknown to him-that the experience of our youth forever robbed him of the capacity to feel deep love for anyone ever again. I felt so guilty, and God knows I was guilty. I still suffer pain from that realization. It certainly behooves us all to carefully control our emotions in every circumstance, when they can cause such lasting pain to others.
His continuing career in the Navy until retirement was punctuated with visits whenever he was in my vicinity. On retirement he moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I occasionally visited him there in his comfortable home. He still made regular visits to my home in California. The warm understanding between us that had spanned 60 years was a joy that no fleeting romance could ever surpass. No, he was no longer the cute tow-headed boy that I once knew, but was rather a pot bellied old bald headed man (just like me).
On Friday morning, June 30, 1999, I got a phone call from one of Herman's Florida friends. He said simply, "Herman passed away quietly in his sleep last night."
I was taken aback. I had just talked to him that day, and although he expressed his usual litany of aches and pains, there was no hint that his life of almost 78 years was about to come to an end. In fact he had even talked of an impending visit to California.
What has he left behind? Let me tell you! There is an ache in my heart that no one, nothing, can assuage. I miss my dear friend. I miss my Herman. I miss my first love. I now take this opportunity to eulogize this wonderful friend to whoever reads this essay. Herman has left behind not only my ache of loss, but also many precious memories, which I shall treasure for the rest of my life.
God bless you, Herman. May you find a sweet rest, and know that there is one who sorely misses you even now, and who will join you before very long.