Sunday, September 25, 2016

we're two ships that pass in the night

I met Jonathan three times. 

The first time I met Jonathan was at the end of February 1982. I was an art student, working at my cousin's heath food restaurant in Center City Philadelphia. Jonathan came in to the restaurant with a date. His date would become my wife two years later. Jonathan and the future Mrs. Pincus were close friends growing up. Their parents were friends. Actually, the first time young Mrs. P laid eyes on him, she was head-over-heels in love. It was a strange bit of "kismet" that Jonathan chose to bring her to the restaurant where I worked on that particular evening. I didn't really have too much to say to Jonathan. I remember he was a good-looking guy, but I was too busy chatting up his pretty companion. She, however, thought I was the most obnoxious person she ever met. I know this, because she told me so. Right then and there.

The next time I saw Jonathan was in 2001. My wife, my son and I attended the bat mitzvah of a classmate of my son. The young lady, Gabby, was Jonathan's niece. After the service, we mingled among the guests. Jonathan approached us. My wife smiled at Jonathan, although he didn't look at all familiar to me. He and Mrs. Pincus embraced. He shook my hand and turned to my then thirteen year-old son and introduced himself. "I'm your mom's first husband.," he said, with a wink. My son, a bit panicked, turned to me and cocked his head in confusion. (Just a note: That is not something you say to a thirteen year-old.) We explained that Jonathan was an old friend and he was, indeed, kidding.

I saw Jonathan one more time. It was a week or so ago, just after Labor Day 2016. Actually, I saw him at the same synagogue that our paths crossed fifteen years earlier. This time, however, it was not for a joyous occasion. We were joining hundreds of other mourners at a post-funeral shiva for Jonathan's sister-in-law Linda, who had passed away after a long struggle with cancer. Mrs. P and I maneuvered our way through the crowd, shaking hands and patting backs, until we came upon Jonathan. Again, like they had done previously, my wife hugged Jonathan. Jonathan shook my hand heartily and said, "How'ya doing, buddy?" I don't believe that he remembered my name, but that was okay. He was friendly enough and exhibited no hard feelings that I was happily married to his one-time date for the past 32 years.

Jonathan took his own life on September 16, taking with him the opportunity to see him again.

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