We'd chat endlessly about hacking and making websites. We'd trade ideas and code, pair program on what we though would one day conquer the world – things like webpages with scrolling backgrounds or programs that would let a remote person minimize all the open windows. We were truly unstoppable.
We continued the saga almost unchanged for a decade or so spilling over onto MSN messenger when MSN chatrooms were killed off by Microsoft – then later when we finally got cell phones, we transitioned to pretty much talking all night most nights.
He might have been hundreds of miles away but I feel like I grew up with him. I can't be sure how he felt, but I feel like I discovered myself beside Chisum. He was my wall to throw stuff at to see what would stick. Stupid teenager crap, programming ideas galore. School problems. Rage issues. Then relationship hardships. Talking about our love for fires and beer - though neither one of us was old enough.
Maybe it's the distance that allowed me to talk candidly to him, but I confided things in Chisum that I could never with those closest to me at the time.
I poured out my heart about my crush, then spoke to him before I got married then again after. I confided my fears when my first and second kids were on the way. I celebrated every new job move with him. Lamented every step back, repossessions, foreclosures, job losses.
These candid conversations would continue as long as he would live. Three years before his death, he was still talking me though issues with those I love. Always trying to keep me on track. Maybe we didn't always give each other the best advice – but at least is was advice. Even if it were just someone to talk to, someone to listen. He'd be there. No matter the topic.
When he first went to the hospital, I was under the impression that he would not be coming out. In a way I suppose that was correct, but he did get to go home for a short while.
I was able to talk to him one night before he went to the hospital for the last time. Given this opportunity I kind of let out some anger about how he had treated himself, but I told him how I felt. I told him I loved him like a brother. I told him I needed him to stick around. I cried. I felt so stupid on the phone at the time. I had no idea that up to that point it would be one of the most important emotional discussions of my life to that potin.
He wasn't home long before being re-admitted for the last time. Then we'd chat about menial, trivial things on messenger. 3 to 5 word sentences. Nothing more.
Two days before he was gone, I sent him a very stupid meme about a gamer trying to get with his mom. He made a video call to me about 5 minutes later. We were on the call for around 20 minutes. I just spoke to him for 15 minutes. I told him I was worried and I cared. I told him his family cared. I asked him to reach out to individuals if he could. He never said a word, he just looked. So, I showed him my kids. I let Autumn talk to him and let him watch my 5yo Corbin play Minecraft.
That's the last time I saw him.
We always looked up to each other. I believe he looked up to me, but he never knew I was immensely jealous of him for the things that I couldn't wrap my head around. Things like his Linux prowess and his ability to brute-force WiFi passwords. I wish I would have told him that.
I miss you Josh. God I miss you. Rest easy my friend.
The other Josh.