Eric’s sister called me yesterday evening, to let me know she’d heard Jim Borson died. Eric, Jim and Jeff were best friends in high school, all members of a Jewish youth group. They didn’t go to the same high schools, but found a bond of love and friendship that endured through decades that included pretty tough times for Jim and Jeff — substance abuse, career missteps, failed relationships. But Jeff eventually married, got a bit more sober and was loved fiercely by his wife. Jim had two wonderful daughters before divorcing, and in spite of continued difficulties with making any of his dreams come true, was always ready with a smile.
Jeff died first, his over-worked liver finally giving out. In the year before he died, during a visit, he called Eric upstairs to talk with him alone. “Jeff wants me to have his Grateful Dead poster collection when he dies,” Eric told me later as we were driving. “He knows he doesn’t have that long left.” He always always called Eric on his birthday. The year after he died, Eric turned 53 and the silent phone was as much a reminder of his long friendship as a call would have been.
Eric died at 54. Jim came to the funeral, stunned that his two oldest friends were now gone. Wednesday night, just hours before the solstice, Jim’s car broke down in the middle lane of I-95 in Connecticut. According to the article I found online, he got across the right lane, and was crossing an exit lane when he was struck by a car and killed. He was 60.
Three close friends, all dead by 60. I hope they’re having some fun tonight.