This post has been brewing for the last couple of weeks and now I think I’ve finally found the words inside to finish it. For a while I’ve wondered what it is that makes one an adult. To the government that mostly happened when I turned 18, and fully when I turned 21. It makes sense, I began paying for a lot of my own things at 18 and I moved to attend university. Over the course of that next few years I took on more and more responsibility in my life, got a job and was fully on my own 1,800 miles from my parents and where I grew up. Over the next several years friendships cemented and a lot of fun was had. When I think back on it all it never seems much different from being in university, just that we were at work instead. That’s not to say that we were immature, just that I think we were kids at heart, we kept some youthful energy and being around each other in our particular situation really helped to keep it going. Since then I’ve made hard decisions and moved around but I still keep in touch with friends. Through it all I knew I was considered an adult, but I never really had a feeling inside that I was adult like my parents or other relatives and acquaintances. Maybe that stems from the fact that I’m not married. I know people say that when you have kids it really hits you how adult you’ve become. Growing up I was involved in the Boy Scouts. Not everyone gets the same things out of Scouting, but for me it was a big influence on the way I think about the world around me. The Boy Scout slogan is “Do a good turn daily.” That’s one of the lessons I’ve tried to keep with me as I’ve moved on in my life. Doing things for friends is something I’m glad to do, it’s part of the friendship. The complexity of what I do for friends has gotten greater over the years and when I look back I guess that should have given me a clue as to how adult I was becoming, but like the rest of life we have to experience it all and the changes are so gradual we don’t pick up on them until they’re well underway. This last year has been a particularly large year for me in my realizations. My biggest event this year was riding in the AIDS/LifeCycle. I don’t have HIV or AIDS and I don’t know anyone directly infected (actually, the saying I learned is “You probably know someone that’s HIV+, you just don’t know it”) but the disease impacted my life with the passing of my uncle in 1992. On the ride I realized that by giving up some of my time to encourage people to donate the group as a whole was able to raise more than $8 million dollars to fight AIDS. While that’s impressive it wasn’t until I met a person on the ride that had been helped by the money raised that I realized the impact of my actions. It floored me and I decided I would be doing that ride until AIDS is a thing of the past. My next realization came just two weeks ago. My friend Cort’s step-father was diagnosed with cancer sometime in the last couple of years (I wish I knew exactly when). Michael, the step-father, and Cort’s mom, Marsha, have always nice to me and even had me over for Christmas dinner in 2004 and Keith and I fried a turkey for them at Thanksgiving last year. Michael and Marsha got married in April and to help out I took their dog, George, for the day (the wedding was at their house and George is an excitable pup). He was a great dog to hang out with and it was good to know I helped them out. Since April Michael’s condition had gotten worse. Two weeks ago he had to go to using a wheelchair to get around. Keith and I spent a day and built ramps so that they could get the wheelchair in and out of the house. We built one for the door nearest the bedroom, another to get off that patio, one to get from the yard to a gate so Michael could get to the car, and one in the courtyard so he could get outside. It was great to see Marsha’s appreciation that we built them. They fit great and would help out a lot. Little did we know they’d need them the next day to take Michael to the hospital for emergency care. When Michael came back home the next weekend Keith and I went over to visit him and ended up helping with cooking lunch (more Keith than me, I was his supervisor on the grill :). Seeing Michael was good, but it was obvious his condition has worsened since the previous week. It’s hard to watch a person you respect and love slip away. Instantly I was reminded of my Granddad ten years ago. He was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and passed pretty quickly as it was very rapid. My Granddad had always been a tall, strong man that I looked up to. Having to help him get out of his car and seeing him on an oxygen tank weren’t easy. In the back of our minds there are the thoughts of inevitability that we don’t want to acknowledge because they’re hard to come to terms with. When my mom called me shortly after I had moved to New York to tell me my Granddad passed away I was upset, but at least I had said my goodbyes to him. Last night Cortney called Keith and let us know that Michael had passed away. I knew it was coming, but it’s always the same, you feel bad inside, empty. It’s especially hard when it’s a person that was warm and funny and loving. He would always welcome me into his home and share with me. It was really hard to see him go through the treatments and still slip away. I’m glad I’ll have memories of him from the last couple of years. I’m glad I was able to help a little and hopefully make his last days a tiny bit easier. This whole post started back two weeks ago when we were done with the ramps. I realized then that I’d drifted over the course of my life into adulthood. I’ve probably been there for a while, but my own realization didn’t really catch up with me until now. As an adult you help your friends selflessly. You are there when people need a shoulder to lean on and you give them a helping hand if they need it. I don’t really know where I was going with this or how to wrap it up, but I’ll just leave you with a bit of advice my dad used to tell me as a kid: “You do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.” Being an adult is me being there because I want to be for my friends. Farewell Michael, you’ve gone too soon, but your memory will remain with us for ever. Thanks for letting me grow up a little with you.