The word eulogy has a Greek origin. It is a speech or writing in praise of a recent dearly departed. This is my first. I wrote this a few weeks ago and never had an opportunity to have it delivered. I share it here instead. These words are for my dearly departed friend Paul Bang. Paul died recently after what can be described as complications from cancer. Paul decided in what can in its best light be seen as a sort of act of bravery in his situation. I do not care to argue that in any way. Paul decided to call it a life, quits, on his own terms. For Paul.
Paul was a great storyteller. As I write this, I wish I could ask Paul, “Hey, how would you write this?” I would not ask him what he would write about himself. That would be too obvious. I would ask him about the broad strokes of what he would share, and maybe a little bit about how he would share it.
When I first moved to Southern California I knew exactly two people. Paul was my first new friend out there. We worked together. Offices in downtown Burbank. We stayed friends and in the end Paul was one of my oldest friends. He did things I found outrageous. He once flew to San Francisco to meet my wife and I for dinner. He rented a car and driver and had us chauffeured all over the city in style. Never mind Las Vegas trips. Never mind dinners in Los Angeles. Too many to share. Paul had style. Paul was generous.
Truth is Paul was most of the reason we stayed in touch for so many years. Paul was a friend keeper. Someone who does not let their good friends drift too far away. He would call from time to time, and for example, ask for my perspective on a situation. Sometimes it might be advice about how to deal with a workplace challenge. He would always thank me in a funny voice for “my white friend perspective”. I think I know what he meant. It did not require definition.
I have imagined many times over the past weeks, being able to say a real goodbye to Paul. To look him in the eye and tell him how much I miss him. The sadness from his leaving us. I would have used different words, harsher words to his face, and Paul would have appreciated the brutal honesty and emotion. I will tell him now, and imagine him here with me, I miss you brother. Good bye, friend. God speed you to your next, and if not or in the meantime, may your rest be peaceful.