No Dress Rehearsal

Here is an account of how George met up with Nala and me today in the forest, alone and away from everyone.

In truth I was actually scheduled to meet up with his wife this afternoon for coffee, but she texted me at the last minute to say she was too sad – too scattered – and could we do it another time. It was a bit of a relief because I wasn’t in the mood either…

Three weeks ago, drugs took out one of my best friends, and my pup Nala’s favourite wingman. George taught Nala how to dog. And me how to human.

When addicts make the decision to dabble again, they don’t start from scratch, they pick up from where they’d left off. This is what happened to George, who very quickly spiralled. He’d relapsed after being clean for 20 years.

George had slipped off my radar about six months ago. I’ve since learned isolation is a sure sign your dear friend is in trouble. I’d been out for a walk with Nala and passed by the house across the street that he’d helped build when I realized I hadn’t heard from him and made a mental note to call him when I got home. And then I forgot.

I miss George every single day, and think about him all the time.

He’d had a rough go in life, you know? But despite being neglected by family, living on the street as a teen, and being at the mercy of drugs for years, he managed to overcome addiction and create a beautiful life for himself, his wife Jen, and a daughter he treasured. He was one of the best dads ever – always there for his Bella, and also, one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

I love you, George. And I’d give anything to have known you were on your own and needed someone. I would have been there in a second.

Today, when I was in the forest with Nala and a flurry of oak tree catkins rained down out of the blue, I thought maybe a sudden gust of wind had kicked up, but the tassels were falling in a violent, tornado-type cylinder around the two of us only. No weather, no squirrels scrambling across branches, nothing. The day was calm, it was just Nala and me, and then out of nowhere appeared our beloved buddy George.

Nice one man. See you again soon.

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