It has been awhile since I have posted. My close friend and mentor Nelson Bland died at 3:23 on Aug. 24. I know this because I was at the hospital in his last moments.
He wasn’t blood but he was family.
Last week was blur of planning and working. Since he wasn’t immediate family, I couldn’t take bereavement time off. I will admit I am having a hard time moving forward.
We met 14 years ago when I was a young reporter out of college. He taught me about community journalism. His big thing was how the Mount Olive Tribune wasn’t the New York Times. It was a community newspaper.
People care about the small things like teddy bear tea parties, barbecue fundraisers and the Ruritan meetings. If they want national news, they will turn on the tv but we are responsible for the local stuff.
Years after leaving the Tribune, we remained friends. I would visit from time to time. But moving back to Pickle Land a year ago, we became closer. Mitch Albom had “Tuesdays with Morrie”. I had Wednesdays with Nelson.
It would start with conversation, running some errands and dinner. I knew not rush the visit or schedule something on Wednesdays. My only excuse was if I had to work.
Even though, he could irritate the snot out of me, he was my friend. I feel lost without him. He was my biggest supporter and critic. He didn’t hesitate to tell me that while a story was good that he knew I could do better. He read my newspaper each week from cover to cover, starting with my stories.
It has been one week and a day since he died and I still have his number on speed dial and still want to call him. He didn’t understand my ED. But he would always say I looked so much more healthy than when he met me 14 years ago. Back then, I was 90 lbs and was deep in the ED pool. So he would ask what I ate but in amusing ways. Thanks to him, I have rediscovered my love of cooking and eating.
I will admit I am depressed and so are my group of friends. The five of us are very sad because the loss of the big guy has left a huge void in our lives.