Listen, I’m no guru on interpersonal relationships. However, experiencing loss really makes you think hard about your relationships with those you hold dear. From friends to family and even to your significant other, loss makes you “re-prioritize” for a lack of a better word.
I’m here to tell you that though you may have some regrets in your life, regret should be taken as one of the best learning tools in your life. It makes you rethink what went wrong and put into perspective what needs to be done to correct it. Please allow me to indulge myself and tell you a little story about my past. This post will not include any photos, just out of respect.
Four years ago, my friend Brian passed away from an automotive incident at Brainerd International Speedway during an event called “Proving Grounds.”
How Brian and I met was through cars. Specifically Paul Walker’s untimely death in late 2013. I have met some friends through the power of the automotive community on Facebook. One of those friends was the one, the only, Brian O’Connor. Brian was part of a new car group in Minnesota called “InCarNation.” They were in the midst of setting up a winter cruise/benefit in the name of Paul. We’d create this massive cruise for all Midwesterners, chip in financially where 100% of proceeds would go to Paul’s charity “Reach Out Worldwide.”
I joined in on InCarNation in it’s early stages and was pretty much the social media guy. I’d answer questions asked on Facebook, help coordinate some scouting of venues to hold the start of the cruise and some of the backend planning. Brian and I became quick friends.
The cruise went off without a hitch, save for some trolls here and there. If I recall correctly, we were able to raise $3,123 for Paul’s charity. It was such an amazing feeling and really got InCarNation off the ground and thrusted into the Minnesota automotive community.
Fast forward a few more months and we’re all hanging out, planning new events and the like. For some reason I had this huge falling out with the rest of the group where it felt like none of my opinions or suggestions even mattered to the rest of the group. So I halfway left, halfway stayed. I kept my distance from the rest of the group.
During that time, Brian contacted me and reached out to me multiple times asking if I wanted to hang out with the rest of the group. Hang out with him on getting some stuff done to his Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart. Reluctantly, I declined every offer he made, and I made this sad excuse that I was too busy working. Some of it was the truth, some of it was a lie. I didn’t want to hang out with my friends, I didn’t want to hang out with Brian.
When it came time for the group to head up to Brainerd for Proving Grounds, again I was invited to join in on the festivities. I was not slated to work that weekend, I picked up some extra shifts so I can say that I can’t go because I got scheduled to work.
That fateful weekend, I was browsing though Facebook sitting behind the front desk of a local hotel that I worked at, seeing some of my other friends post saying there has been an incident with Brian. Immediately I started to send messages around and make some calls. He had been airlifted to Baxter, and at that time was currently en route to St. Cloud.
After work, I drove straight from Medina to St. Cloud, which is about an hour’s worth of a drive. When I got to the hospital, getting inside the waiting room was so surreal. It felt fake. The feelings I felt was simply-put overwhelming. Immediately I felt awkward, saw some friends and immediately broke down.
Over the coming days, Brian showed signs of improvement and decline. Then it came to the point where it went so far down hill that his mom asked us (his friends) what he would want. Would he want to become a vegetable? Or would he rather go out with dignity surrounded by friends and family?
We collectively decided to pull the plug.
The moral of this long ass story is that no matter what happened between you and your friends — they’re your friend for a reason. Be there for them. Be there with them. Especially when he call out on you. Because one day, you’ll never get to say that you’re sorry, you’ll never get to tell them that you forgive them. You won’t be able to say anything to them besides in spirit. Don’t make that same mistake as I did, because it’ll follow you for the rest of your life.