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Goodbye Albert

I lost a friend the other day. As I think on it now I have to admit that I didn’t know him very well. Our friendship was still fairly new when he died. But I’d already found a great fondness in my heart for him. He would come running when he saw me, and he never missed a chance to say hello and show his regard for me. I still smile when I think of him skipping about like a madman, oblivious to the stares of others, leaping in wild circles like a child with more energy than he could contain. He never knew how desperately I wanted to join him.
His death was unexpected. Tragic and violent. He was brought down because he was too innocent. Too trusting. My heart breaks to think of his end and how frightened and confused he must have been. Part of my own spirit died with him rather than face the reality of his death and the horrific way he died.
The worst of it came afterwards. I lifted up his name, hoping that someone else would mourn Albert’s passing. But the death of this great, boisterous spirit was met with indifference. Albert was too dirty for the sympathy of most of the people I know. He was too fat. Too short. He wasn’t one of the graceful swans that they prefer. No, at the hands of the sanctimonious and the do-gooders, those people whose compassion and empathy is much celebrated and paraded about in gaudy displays of self-importance, Albert’s death meant nothing. He was the unfortunate victim or a chance encounter. Nothing more. If anything, those people had more compassion for his murderer, because she lived on the streets and was a product of her environment and instinct, who never had a fair shake and deserved a home.
I have lost respect for these people. Their compassion is selective. Their empathy is non-existent. They have shown me the ripples on the surface of the waters of their souls, and hoped it would hide how shallow are those depths.
I ask you not to grieve for Albert, but merely to acknowledge his fading presence. Perhaps I was raised differently, if it makes me so odd to contend that Albert had as much of a right to his life as did his murderer to hers. I find myself dumbfounded that some people believe they can have an opinion about which lives are more significant and worthy than others. All life is sacred, or none of it is. You don’t get to pick and choose. Shame on you for doing so.
My days will be less interesting without my occasional encounters with Albert. In time I’m sure the sting of his death will fade, along with other memories. I’ll find other problems and people to fill that small space in my life that Albert used to occupy. But at the moment, while the memories of his boisterous spirit and easy¬†camaraderie¬†are still fresh, I wanted to mention my friend, Albert. It doesn’t matter if the do-gooders and social critics made little note of his passing. By belittling the importance of this one life they have diminished their own significance.
I, for one, will take a moment and mark the passing of my friend Albert. He was significant to me. For Albert, in the end, I think that’s what really would have mattered. Someone cared that he lived.

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