29
Aug
09

In Memoriam: Joey Ruggiero

It’s one of life’s great cliches that everyone comes into your life for a reason. It does not always follow, however, that they go out of your life for a reason, too. Sometimes they just go, and it’s cruel, and it’s brutal.

I did not know Joey well. We met in January, and he was gone by mid-April. Every time I saw him in those brief months, he brought some new delight into my life &#8212 a fun, clever friend of his; a fabulous place for brunch; a ceramic two-tiered deviled egg serving tray.

Since his death, I have been remembering all of the “lasts.” You always remember those: the last tweet, the last Facebook update, the last photo I took of him, the last time he was at my house, the last time I was in his disastrously messy car.

Everything around me is a reminder, as if a trace of life is left behind everywhere he went, like a scent. Whenever I’m on South Street, I remember the last time he got new plugs for his ear lobes. RuPaul reminds me of him. Britney Spears reminds me of him. Blood oranges, enchiladas, Hello Kitty.

Our lasts were, in most cases, also firsts. The last meal we shared was at our annual Easter party, which we thought would be the first of many he would attend. It was at that party, he told us, that he had his first-ever green bean casserole. Also his last.

The lasts hurt so much because they’re a reminder of the obliterated potential. You decide to let someone into your life as a friend, and you can imagine how things will be years on: the holidays and birthdays, the summers and winters, the drunken nights out, the drunken nights in.

We have the lasts to be grateful for, but we can’t help but feel robbed of an undiscovered future and memories we never had a chance to make. And then we remember that the future that’s gone is his. We still have ours, and that’s more to be grateful for.

Sometimes I think we don’t really lose anybody. We just find them somewhere else. I find Joey continuously in the friends we inherited from him.

Joey collected people, and he carried a whole world with him. His was an exuberant life that spilled over into everyone around him. Like all is other possessions, we are left behind to be redistributed or to be gathered closer. We have chosen the latter.

Last week would have been his birthday. We had cake and champagne in his honor. And I saw once again how lucky we were to know him, and how grateful we should be for the people he brought to our lives.

We are all so different, and we all knew him for different reasons, but we all fit together. And wherever we go, he goes.

Rest in peace, friend.

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2 Responses to “In Memoriam: Joey Ruggiero”


  1. 1 Byf
    August 30, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    A week before he died, I told him, "You have to try a Jamocha shake before you die." And he loved the shake.

  2. August 30, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    I was unable to attend his birthday celebration but my thoughts were with all of you there. Your wyrds truly captured who Joey was to all of us. A lover, a best friend, a random ride home from the club, a new shopping partner, and so many more things. Joey will live on in all of us and our actions. I hope sometyme soon; when the pain of his passing has lessened for me, that I can come to meet all ove you and learn more of the best friend I lost through you all. Thank you for putting this out there.


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the untallied hours

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