As I get older I ever more value the friends I’ve had from my youth, the ones who stuck in there over many years. I always feel sorry for people who don’t have those old friends who can keep their heads from overinflating when things go well, or remind them of their innate strengths when circumstances turn downward.
The price of this love is how painful it is to lose one of these few longtime friends. Twenty years of constant caring and encouragement came to an end last month when Billy Hinton — he’s standing directly behind me in this photo, holding my shoulders — died after a long period of ill health. He went out like a man, exactly the way everyone who knew him would have expected from him, with a final display of courage and soul that was astonishing by any standard. He also had a few snide words for the Boston Celtics ;-), who at the time were locked in combat with his beloved Bulls.
I was so HONORED to have been gifted with his unstinting friendship for all these years. He was never afraid to challenge me to be better and stronger than I knew myself to be, and he had the power to connect me to an authentic self that sometimes felt long-lost indeed.