By some weird twist of infection and illness we all have to say goodbye to Scott Johnson tonight.
Scott is one of my lifelong friends. And I’m lost right now. I don’t understand. I don’t want to understand. And I hurt. And I’m mad. And I’m not ok.
I met Scott is at the Fassnight Pool in Springfield,Missouri right after my 13th birthday and right before his 13th birthday. The summer before our freshmen year of high school Scott asked me to “go with him.” He was my first real boyfriend. Years later he told me he was surprised I said yes, because I was supposedly out of his league. We laughed and giggled on the phone. We listened to the Doors together. We held hands. We snatched brief, embarrassing smooches. We went on bike rides together through the cemetery.
Our romantic relationship didn’t make it through first semester of our freshmen year but our friendship did. Scott and I took German together and hung out through German Club. If you’re getting the picture of particularly nerdy kids then you’re on the right track.
After graduation and into adulthood Scott and I continued to weave in and out of each other’s lives. The invention of Facebook was a godsend for us. It made it super easy to stay in touch, to watch each other’s kids grow up, to celebrate, to support during hard times, to laugh.
I can tell you Scott has and has not changed much since we were high schoolers. I’m pretty sure he has backpacks of money, canned food, water, and pot stashed around the KC area in the event of zombie apocalypse. He’s evolved into a brilliant satirical political writer. He was a regular on conservative talk shows. He is probably way more intelligent than most people gave him credit for. He found most of life just absolutely hysterical.
This is what warms me the most about Scott. His propensity for laughter. He could be horribly inappropriate but he always, even in the darkest of times would have a gleam of light in his eyes looking for the joy, looking for the punchline, looking for the good. He’s a horrible computer programming geek that actually knew how to socialize. His house was filled with pictures of his kids and his friends. He sought out comedians. He loves music. He’s so, so, so proud and in love of his kids. He was generous to a fault with everything he has. A few years back, Scott and I were walking out of a restaurant and we found $200 on the sidewalk. We each took a bill. Later I found both bills in my purse. It was when I was just getting started with The Sparrow’s Nest and he wanted to make a significant contribution. He probably needed it to pay the gas company but he wouldn’t think of not supporting me. How many times have I heard him say in the last 20 years “I just want to be the best person I can.”
He would text me encouragement. He would cheer me on. He’s the one I could call on in the middle of the workday if my own stupid printer wasn’t working. He has always loved me and has told me that at least once a year. He would challenge me not to give up even when fighting his own demons, his own life struggles, he was always looking out for everyone else. He’s the gigantic teddy bear who could not help but love everyone who crossed his path.
For our 40th birthdays we decided to complete a century ride together. For months beforehand we trained separately never quite finding the time to train together. We talked about meeting somewhere in the middle of Missouri just to do a few rides but it just wouldn’t come together. In October, Scott finally got to ride the first quarter of my century with me on the Ride The River Route. It’s the last time we were able to get together in person. We’ve exchanged lots of texts and chat times since. However, how beautiful is it that one of my first memories with Scott is riding bikes and one of my last memories of Scott is riding bikes.
There wasn’t enough time in the last 24 hours to tell Scott I loved him, how proud I was of him, how grateful I am for a lifetime of laughter and true friendship. I couldn’t figure out why Scott wasn’t filling social media world with a rant on Ferguson on Monday night. I’m filled with memories of our other friends, of seeing him in the hallways at PHS with Mike Vincent, him sitting on the radiators in Frau’s classroom, sitting next to him while we had lunch with Oji Johnson at Bass Pro a fews ago, him drawing me into Twitter world, creating playlists on line with him, finally getting to introduce him to my husband at our 20 year reunion, hearing him tell me his daughter played cello and followed my blog, stopping at the Missouri History Museum on our century ride. A million phrases of his come to mind. His laughter rings in my ears. And my heart hurts. I hurt for his girlfriend Tracey. I hurt for his kids. I hurt for our view of shortened life.
I don’t want to say goodbye.