There is a relief that comes with learning that what you thought to be true, isn't. Especially when what you thought was terribly sad.
Several years ago my brother, Benjamin, and I were talking about our friends from Alaska. Of course a conversation like this can not happen without mentioning a couple of people: Chris Moss, Harold McGrogan, and Mike Egan.
I have never lost contact with Harold, and recently, we have been put in contact with Chris. Mike, however, was not to happen. See, Benjamin had heard, from where he can't remember, that Mike was dead.
He didn't know how, or when, just that something had happened to end Mike's life. I remember when he told me this, I was crushed. Mike practically lived with us for many years.
It was through Mike that I learned about rock music. At the time of our meeting, ben and I were into whatever my parents were listening to. This happened to be 50's and 60's rock and country.
Mike was different. He liked bands like Quiet Riot, Ratt, Night Ranger and so on. He wasted no time in converting us and deepening our already vast appreciation of music.
I remember listening to Mike play his Tenor Sax and wishing I could play as well as he did on my Alto Sax. When Mike brought a soprano sax home from school, he let me try it and made sure to help me get the fingering correct.
I truly can not remember a summer where Mike wasn't with us somewhere - a lake, on a three wheeler, hunting, listening to music, drinking, smoking, and more.
So his death was a little hard to believe. And I refused to accept it.
Every once in awhile I decide to look for friends from my past. There are a couple that I very much would like to talk to, just to let them know I have never forgotten them or their friendship. Some I have found and have reached out to, and some I have found but have refused to have contact with them.
Always I would search for Mike. If anything, I wanted to see an obituary to confirm what I had been told. But I never found it.
Yesterday, with some downtime on my hands, I decided to renew the search. I went through the usual routes, Facebook, Yahoo, Google. But no luck.
Frustrated I sat back and thought about it a bit. I had to be missing something somewhere, but where? Then it hit me, perhaps I am spelling it wrong. So I tried it again. Still nothing.
Then I tried his Mom's name and wouldn't you know it, a hit. I found a Kay Egan with relations by the names of Ross (Mike's Dad), Kelly (his sister), Michele (his wife whom I met once) and Michael L. Egan.
Now I know Mike's middle name for one reason. I was writing a story and Mike asked to read it. My main character's name was Leroy and Mike gave me a hard time for using his middle name. I swore to him I had no idea that was his middle name, to which he laughed.
A little more searching and I found a phone number (thank God I am a reporter and know how to dig a little). So I gave it a call. Answering machine.
I decided to wait till later that evening. After all, Alaska is a couple of hours behind me.
Before making the call I talked to my wife about it and she asked me if I left a message. How could I? If what I thought is true, I surely don't want to hurt someone by leaving a message asking for someone who had passed away.
But by the time I made the second call, I had changed my mind. I figured if no one answered I would leave a message and hope for the best. Answering machine again. So I left a message explaining who I was and what I was doing. I left my phone number and said if this is Mike please give me a call.
It was approaching 9 p.m. and I knew I was going to be headed downstairs for bed, so I plugged in my phone and hoped the morning would usher in some news.
About twenty minutes ago I received a text from Michele. Sure enough, I had found the right number. Mike wanted to call but was unsure where I was and what time it was. Michele and I exchanged a few texts and tried to catch each other up in such a limited for of communication. In the end we agreed I would call tonight.
So tonight I am going to call my friend and say hello. I am really happy I never believed.