A couple of months ago I spoke with a friend about some of my fears. On that list was the fear that I would leave this world without ever telling those I cared most about how I truly felt about them.
It is in the spirit of facing that fear that I’m going to begin a series of random posts about the people that have had a profound and lasting impact on my life. Since there will be no rhyme or reason to the sequence of the posts I will likely write about these individuals the next time I share a meaningful experience with them.
Just a little over 4 years ago I got up to give a toast to Aaron Bell at his wedding. We’ve joked about it quite since then. The idea was to record all of the toast that were given. Oh how I wish that had been done. I gave what I thought was a nice toast. It was a little bit of humor mixed in with some serious sentiments about his friendship. Unfortunately, the only thing he can remember is me telling him that he was a bum/mooch.
Allow me to take this opportunity to set the record straight. I do not remember what I said that night verbatim because it was off-the-cuff but, I remember the point I was trying to get across. I spoke of the many things that Aaron had been called over the years that I had known him. When I first met him, everyone called him Taco (see last name). As I understand it, he hated that nickname. As time when by his nicknames changed. I later began referring to him simply as Bell.
Bell always had a knack for getting something for nothing. It was a bit of a talent. This is where the confusion about my words that night comes in. I said that he was so good at getting things from people that he could probably get a bum to give him the shirt off of his back. After I said that I got a little more serious and this is the part that people missed, I said, ‘of all of the things that Bell has been called or known for, the best thing that I have ever been able to call him is, friend.’
I mean it even more now than I did then. He has always been a true friend to me and the many others that he has. As is often the case, it’s the small things that have the greatest significance in any relationship.
I’ve actually been sitting at my computer for awhile now thinking about the last 10 years that I have had the privilege of knowing Aaron. We’ve shared a lot of fun experiences. If I were to compile a top 10 list of memories that I have of Aaron it would read something like this (in no particular order):
- Long weekends in Bear Lake with Chad Heitz out on the Mastercraft.
- Doing doughnuts in the parking lot of Acres
- Drinking full bottles of sparkling cider after long days at work
- Snowshoeing and sitting on the tailgate afterwards having sunflower seeds/Gatorade
- Vacations (‘surfing’ in San Diego / SIA Tradeshow in Las Vegas)
- Drinking some Yerba Mate with fresh limeade
- Being roommates for a couple of years (going to the Laundromat, climbing up on the roof, doing yard work, grilling steaks on the deck, etc.)
- Riding longboards up at the U…going down the steps at the Huntsman Center
- Making a fence out of railroad ties
- Many, many more….
While all of those experiences have left an impression on me, perhaps the greatest experience I had with him was this past weekend. Aaron became a father for the first time on Sunday morning (11:56 a.m….I think). I was on my way back from Las Vegas so I wasn’t able to see him until later that night. I showed up at the hospital around 6 o’clcok to find him in the room with his in-laws, his wonderful wife, and their beautiful new baby girl (Isla Sue).
Like most guys, I was hesitant to hold her at first because she was so small and so fragile. After a half-hour went by I finally decided to hold her. Aaron told me that the most important thing was to support her neck/head. I took her and held her in my arms for awhile before we got up to take her into the nursery to have her IV removed and to get a shot.
He placed her into the crib and with a heart full of fatherly pride he wheeled her across the hall. He invited me into the nursery with him and I followed closely behind. As the nurse carefully removed the blankets and took out her tiny little hand to remove the IV Isla began to cry. Aaron reached out and touched her gently and whispered quietly to her that everything would be okay.
Before the nurse could administer the shot she had to confirm that the consent forms had been signed. She sent one of the other nurses out to retrieve the chart. Aaron caressed Isla’s face while we waited for the nurse to return. Once she was ready to give the shot Aaron took Isla by the hand and again reassured her that everything was going to be okay.
As I sat there watching the whole thing take place, and for some time afterward, I had this thought come to my mind: ‘the same characteristics that had made Aaron such an amazing friend, were the same things that would make him an even better father.’ He has always taken a sincere interest in his friends and their well-being. He’s been loving and supportive. I believe that Aaron would do almost anything for any of his friends and I know that it is true for his wife and daughter.
Allow me to raise my glass, or my keyboard, in a toast to Aaron:
“Here’s to the amazing friend that you have been and to the amazing father that you will be. To the memories of the past and the experiences of the future. To late-nights and long-chats. To rolled-down windows during evening summer drives. To the lessons learned and the growth of friendship. To your great example and strong support. May you be blessed with the type of friendship that you have always extended and receive the best that this life has to offer! I toast to you Aaron! CHEERS!