My Friend Raul

Some people leave you feeling more lonely after you were with them than when you were by yourself. We all have too many of those people in our life. Most of us are dying to be seen, known.

I have a small cadre of friends, a handful really, that knows me – all the stuff that makes me me, good and bad. One of these friends is Raul Cruz. I first met him in Denver in the summer of 2001. That night, he introduced me to the tunes of Santana (being a soulful Puerto Rican and a smashing musician, he has led me to many Latin musical delights over the years), and I also had my one experience at a high-end cigar bar. Something melded our hearts, and we’ve been soul friends ever since.

Raul called me this morning, offering me a gift. “Winn, I love who you are – I’m you’re biggest fan.” Who does that?

Raul does. It is not uncommon for me to find a voice mail from Raul, saying he loves me or is looking forward to when we see each other again. One rough morning, I checked my messages and heard Raul’s voice praying a prayer of blessing over me, my life, my family. It was beautiful. I probably cried – or I should have.

I love Raul’s family, his amazing wife Tara and the rest of the clan, Lydia and Liam. Miska and I love being with Raul and Tara – and Raul is the kind of dad I want to be when I have teenagers (and what’s cool is that I can say these same things of several of my friends).

I’ve seen Raul awash in tears. I’ve been with him as he was curled up, like a baby, on the floor in pain. He has held me and hugged me (and even kissed me – I told you he was Puerto Rican, right? No sense whatsoever of personal space) when I’ve been in the darkest places. I’ve cussed at him, and he’s cussed at me. We’ve hiked together and biked together and laughed and cried. The thing is, he’s my brother. And we (and our families) are going to grow old together. I’m just hoping for the day when we live on the same block. Maybe when we are old geezers, the guys with worn-out plaid jackets who shuffle to the park to smoke our pipes and play chess.

Before Raul hung up today, he added, “I feel like I should tell you – whatever you are doing today, it isn’t as urgent as you think.” His words struck home. Words from a friend.

Like John Lennon, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

3 Replies to “My Friend Raul”

  1. Thanks for the insight into this special friendship. Many of us have been deeply impacted by Raul (and you too, Winn)

  2. What a gift! This story inspires me to give love more lavishly and freely…I too often hold back. Raul's uninhibited delight in you is such a gift…I hope to be someone who takes that much delight in others. And just to add my two cents, I'm a pretty big fan as well (of you and your beautiful wife 🙂

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