I first met Allan Feather during that awkward time we call high school. Of course, when I say “met” it might be a bit of an exaggeration. Although I was aware of Allan and he of me, it wasn’t like we were friends. We knew each other in that way you know pretty much everyone you go to high school with, some more than others.
That said, it’s safe to say that everyone did want to know Allan. He was gregarious, funny and incredibly talented on numerous levels. He was the Ferris Bueller of our high school. The guy everyone wanted to hang out with and get to know. He seemed to be on good terms with everyone regardless of who they were or who they associated with.
Allan was just that kind of guy.
Once we graduated and moved on into the “real world” I never heard from Allan again. This same statement could be applied to 99% of the people I graduated with. For some reason I had decided to move on and with the exception of one or two people, I had no desire to remain in contact with any of them. The reasons why have been lost to time, but until a few years ago I was perfectly happy with the situation as it was.
What happened a few years ago to change things? Facebook.
I was very late to the party when it came to joining Facebook, and when I finally did I was careful to avoid connecting with the folks I went to high school with. Again, I don’t remember why but it seemed like a prudent course of action at the time.
That was until I got a friend request from Allan Feather.
I accepted because I figured why not? Allan was a good guy and it seemed like we had a shared interest in the Philly sports scene. I was just launching a Philadelphia sports blog and figured he might be interested in contributing.
However, thanks to Allan I slowly reconnected with a ton of people from high school and quickly realized I had been acting like a fool. Now, years later I consider some of these former classmates actual, real friends. Something I never thought would happen in a million years.
When my wife Lisa got sick and I needed someplace to go to vent or complain or just needed a shoulder to cry on, these same people I had avoided became the backbone for a group that helped me through some of the worst times of my life. Without them I’m not sure I would have made it.
Without Allan and that initial friend request, I don’t think any of that would have happened.
In addition to Facebook, Allan and I reconnected in the real world. He wrote for my sports blog and did some amazing work covering the Phillies. We went to a couple Phillies games and thanks to our work on the site got free tickets to a Flyers game as well as the chance to attend Eagles Training Camp at the NovaCare Complex.
I’ll never forget that day at Training Camp. Allan drove and we talked nonstop the entire way down to South Philly. We discussed our shared love of the city of Philadelphia, writing, sports and life in general. We watched training camp, got autographs and had a once-in-a-lifetime experience neither of us would ever forget.
A few weeks ago on a Sunday I texted Allan to see if he wanted to go to a Phillies game. I had gotten free tickets again and was looking for someone to go with. He texted back that he had to pass, that he had a lot going on and couldn’t get away. I told him if he needed help to reach out and I would be there in a flash.
Three days later I found out that Allan had stepped in front of a Septa train and killed himself.
Even now, weeks later, I’m still incredibly angry at Allan. That he would do this and leave all the people who cared about him behind to pick up the pieces. Because believe me, all Allan had to say was that he needed help and a small army of friends would have moved Heaven and Earth to get him whatever help he needed.
Obviously Allan was dealing with a lot of demons that no one was aware of. When he decided to do what he did, he probably thought it was for the best, that he was helping those that he loved. Even though that was the furthest thing from the truth.
What really upsets me more than anything is that Allan knew what I had gone through the past year. He was fully aware of the hurdles and difficulties I had to deal with as my wife’s illness progressed. I could have helped him. I could have given advice or just helped him getting the assistance he and his wife needed. All he had to do was ask.
Instead, I’m left asking why.
This Saturday is Allan’s funeral and I can’t bring myself to attend. Other than the fact it’s only been seven months since my wife’s, I just haven’t found it in my heart to forgive Allan for what he’s done. I realize that may be incredibly selfish of me but that’s just the way I feel. I’m still beyond furious at him for what he did.
My hope is that those feelings will slowly recede, and that eventually I’ll just be left with the good memories. Of the two of us at Training Camp on a beautiful July day watching the Eagles prepare for the upcoming season. Of watching the Phillies play while talking about Star Wars. Of grabbing breakfast and talking about comic book movies.
Goodbye Allan. You will be missed.