Losing important people in your life…

I’ve had 3 people in my life that I have considered my best friend. I’ve always held that term very near to my heart and never tossed around like a teen aged girl with all of their BFF’s etc… I mostly have acquaintances, you know the people who come and go out of your life, when they go… one day you think, Hey I wonder what happened to so and so? And might check facebook to see what they are up to.

Then you have friends. The people that you really care about. The people you try not to let slip out of your life. The people who are very important to you.

I had my childhood best friend, who I never EVER thought would be out of my life. We met in the 6th grade and were like brothers from then on. We grew up in a rough neighborhood and had each others backs. Got in fights defending each other, would do anything for each other.

We both moved out at 16 years old and were roommates for years. We were inseparable.

We both got married young, had kids young, got divorced young… Our parents were very good friends with each other. My Mom would go to church with his Mom. His Dad would come over to play pool with my Dad.

We both bought houses within a mile of each other. Our kids were very close in age and were friends and played together.

He was never very good at keeping in touch, so it was really up to me to keep in touch with him. Throughout all my travels and places I have lived, I’d call or take a photo and glue it on top of a postcard and send it to him. His life was always a lot more stable than mine, same job, same house, same relationship (for the most part anyhow) type of guy. He took life a lot more seriously than I did, he was a lot more responsible than I am.

We are still friends, but over time we drifted apart and aren’t very close anymore. We talk every once in a great while. I think his kids hit me up more on Facebook than we talk these days… just life, ya know.

My next best friend, I never even told him he was my best friend, and honestly I don’t even think I realized it until it was too late and he had died. Funny, both of them are/were named Mike. Anyhow, I met Mike #2 when I was managing a restaurant, he was hired as a cashier right out of the Marines, then promoted to waiter. This Mike was a lot more like me. We were both very wild. Drank a lot, did a shit ton of drugs together and separate, we partied our fucking asses off.

We worked together as waiters in a very high end restaurant… and both got fired the same day, lol. He introduced me to some people I became very close friends with. I am still very close with his widowed wife.

He was the kind of guy that would call you on a Sunday afternoon and invite you to a Japanese pagoda park with a huge Koi pond to go do mushrooms with him and some of his nut bag friends and of course I was up to the task, every time. We had a lot of fun together. But he was also the kind of guy that would drop everything to help you out if you were in a jam. A truly good friend. Mike was a guy that everyone liked, I didn’t know anyone who didn’t like him. He would find the good in any situation.

We were always there for each other. He was there the night my daughter was born. He drove me to the hospital. Never mind that we had been at a club drinking our asses off and doing mountains of coke during the night. When the DJ came over the microphone and announced Dick Donato, what the hell are you doing here, your wife is having a baby… he grabbed me, threw me in his car and did about 90 mph to the hospital and waited most of the night into the morning until my daughter was born.

Him and his wife came to visit when I moved to Maui. We went to see each other when the other was hospitalized. We were friends through and through, good times and bad. No matter what was going on in either of our crazy wild lives, we were there for each other.

We were both huge NFL fans, we both loved betting on football. Either he would bet through my bookie or I would bet through his, but one of us always had a bookie to bet on games. We’d talk 3-4 times a day about point spreads and which games were the best bets. We’d go to a sports bar on Sundays and would both be running back and forth, from TV to TV to check on the games we bet. We had such a good time together.

I wanted to go see the Jets play the 49ers, the first game of the season. I was working at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and was talking about the game/trip when my boss overheard me, my boss was Merv Griffin, you know… the guy who invented Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune etc… anyhow Merv overheard me and comp’d me a room at the Hilton Towers in San Francisco for the weekend, such a nice guy. So my buddy Mike, who could give a shit about the Jets, but loved football came up to see the game with me.

I’m not going to go into details here, but the long and short of it was that Mike OD’d that trip and died in the hotel room. I gave him CPR, called 911 to no avail. He died of an overdose with me on that trip. It was the most horrible day of my life, a day I will never forget. And to make it even worse, yes it got worse, was that I had to fly back to LA and go over to his house and tell his wife that her husband was dead. They had 2 little girls. It was the most heartbreaking thing I have ever had to do.

It took me years to get through the sorrow and sadness of losing him. I was just plain fucked up for at least a few years afterwards. For months after, I’d catch myself picking up the phone, mindlessly, just to call him. Then I would remember he was dead and this wash of sorrow would come over me and I would break down in tears.

That was 18 years ago and I still miss him dearly.

I never told him he was my best friend, I don’t really think I realized he was my best friend until he was gone. It still makes me sad.

This brings me to my 3rd best friend, Alan who is pictured in the picture at the top of this blog, he’s on the right.

I met Alan when I was 22 years old, I’ll be 54 next month. Alan was my restaurant manager, I was a waiter at a restaurant/club called The Mardi Gras in downtown Long Beach, California. When I met Alan, I hated him. I really hated him… He was a dick. As the years of us working together went on, we weren’t really friends, but were friendly, or got along. I’m not sure when our relationship changed and I have really thought about it, but can’t really figure it out, but it did, somehow. I moved on and started working as a waiter at The Ritz Calton Hotel in Laguna Nigel, he was a bar manager at The Hop in Lake Forest and I would drop by to see him, have a drink, shoot the shit after I was finished working, but his shift was still going on. Maybe that is when we became friends.

And as the years passed we got closer and became better friends all the time. I even ran his nightclub for a while. We were roommates on a few occasions. My X wife bartended for him for years at his club. When she quit, she was drunk as hell and told him to suck her fucking dick… We laughed about that for years, even recently we had a good laugh over that. We got close, we were very close friends.

I remember one time when I was living with him, he had a great house in Huntington Beach, CA. I brought a couple girls home from a night out in Hollywood. Me and the two girls were in the jacuzzi doing a bunch of coke, having a great time, we were all naked in the jacuzzi.. and we must have woke Alan up, his bedroom (sliding glass door) opened right in front of the jacuzzi. He pulled the curtain back and lightly knocked on the glass door to get my attention, when I looked at him (mind you, both girls were naked and standing up in the jacuzzi, not sitting down) so I look at him to see what the fuck, lol… He mouths to me “Are you OK?” I looked at him, looked at both naked girls and said “Am I ok… what the fuck do you think?” He started laughing his ass off and closed the curtain. Alan always had an odd sense of humor, lol.

Whenever I would be living somewhere else, when I went back to California, I would stay with Alan. When I went out to LA for 2 months when my Mother was dying, I stayed with Alan. He was always there for me.

Alan is a guy I shared everything with. When I was diagnosed HIV+, I told 3 people in the first 3 years. My Mother, my girlfriend and Alan. Alan was always so supportive of me and my situation. We were on the phone and I was bitching that if I was to try and buy health insurance it would cost me over $4,000 a month. His response… He told me now that gay marriage was legal, he offered to marry me so I could get on his insurance plan, since he had a really good insurance plan through his job. He said, he had no plans to ever get married again and if anyone was gonna talk shit, fuck’em. It was the nicest thing anyone had ever offered to do for me, ever. I was really touched by his offer. We didn’t end up getting married, but it was such a great gesture. A true friend.

Alan had a heart attack a couple years ago along with kidney failure. I was living in Florida, but we talked on the phone at least every other day. Then again when he had the 6 way bypass, we talked almost every day while he was in the hospital.

I think the heart attack really scared him, as it would most people. Every time after that when we talked on the phone, he would ask me to move back to California and move in with him. It would always be something like, well you know I have a room here for you anytime you’re ready to come back, it’s always there for you. And I was really considering it. I just about had my mind made up to move after the first of the year, but hadn’t told him because I wasn’t 100% yet.

Then a week ago, I got a call from his daughter. The only other time she had called me was to tell me he had the heart attack. When I picked up the phone, I just said “what happened”, I knew it wasn’t a Hey, how are you call… She told me she had spent the night at his house and when she woke up she found him dead on the bathroom floor. I was/still am absolutely crushed. I spent the next few days in bed crying off and on.

I had known Alan almost 35 years. A really long fucking time. We have seen each other at our best and at our worst. We were friends through it all.

Fuck, this guy listened to all my stupid, funny answers on my Big Brother application and was so proud of me when I won. He would always tell me how much fun he had watching me on that show. He supported me when my head was fucked up after my HIV diagnosis. He supported my decision to go on the VH1 show and reveal I was HIV+. Alan was the guy who cut stitches out of the back of my head. He let my wife live with him when we split up, till she could find a place of her own. He was one of my partners in a business we started promoting concerts. He was the guy I stepped in front of Tank Abbot so he could run out of the back of his club (Tank wanted to kill him, lol.) Alan loved living vicariously through my wild and crazy life and was always there for me when I fell flat on my face, which was more than once. He was there for me when my Father died and again when my Mother died. I was there for him when his sister died. We were there for each other through our divorces and crazy X wife stories afterwards.

Almost 35 years is a very, very long time. You go through a lot of life in that time. To be able to be friends with someone that long is pretty amazing, especially in LA where people move so often and friendships just end up by the way side.

Alan was a true friend to me, my best friend. He was my brother.

Losing a best friend over time, just because… life, is one thing. Having 2 best friends taken from you suddenly is quite another. It leaves scars, deep scars. You will never be the same person you were, but you are so much of a better person for being able to have them in your life for the time you had together.

I will always miss you Alan

Fuck, this has been a very rough couple years for me. I’ve lost the 2 closest people to me in Alan and my Mother. I’ve lost 2 X girlfriends who I was very close to. I could really use a break.

I know it sounds so clichΓ©, but take a minute every now and again to tell the people you love how much they mean to you. Because life isn’t always kind enough to let you say goodbye.



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31 Responses

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  • deborah deutsch on

    my heart goes out to you. I know unfortunately that you are right. Tell the people you love, that you love them. Make that phone call that you keep putting off. Because life can bitch slap you any moment.


  • Shari on

    Tear rolling down my face as I read this. Losing your parents is something I think we all expect at one time or other . I lost both of mine. Losing your friends is another . It shows us that we are all mortal . My heart goes out to you .

    Beautifully written. Heartfelt . Touching. My thoughts are with you

  • Lisa on

    There are no words!

  • heather on

    I know actually how you feel dick I had a close gf we would party together our children were bf since age 3 now they are their 20s she passed away due to throat cancer I have not partied since ( THAT WAS IN 2009) a year later my other bf dies of brain cancer . since then I have no real friends I can really confide or hang around with. when my first bf died all I did was cry I couldn’t speak her name everytime I saw her pic on the wall I would cry so the dr had to put me on meds which work. So I know how it feels I even watched on yon on BB I told everyone you would win they told me I was nuts but who is laughing now lol

  • Carla Terrell on

    Great story!…Hard life lessons will open your eyes and heart!…Thank you!… It was awesome reading this, often brought tears to my eyes!…BTW…Loveeeeeeed watching you on Big Brother…πŸ˜ƒ…You were and will always be my favorite houseguest!…God Bless!…

  • LORI on

    Good morning Dick….I have lost several dear people in my lives. A few harder on myself than others like you have. My best friend killed herself over a married man she had dated for quite awhile. He kept making deadlines of days he was leaving his wife and it just didn’t happen. To me she was the strongest woman I’d ever known. Hell I would have never guessed in a million years that she would kill herself intentionally…and mind you…she did it by shooting herself in the chest…and because she wasn’t close to her family…i was next of kin….and she wants found until the next day….it took me 3 years of self mourning to really be able to see though the clouds again…even though I was still functioning being married and going go work….but the idea she could do something so insane when o knew she was a hell of a tough woman and strong woman….made me realize one day…that even the strong can break. Like you…i never got to tell her she was my best friend. I don’t even remember if I told her I loved her. I didn’t get to day goodbye. How dare her not to say goodbye to me.
    So I do understand your feelings. I sure miss the hell out of her. We used to joke around that someday we would be roommates in a nursing home and wear each other’s false teeth…grins.
    Hang in there buddy Dick
    My heart goes out to you.

    • Cindy Collins on

      Beautifully written. Looks like you are a great best friend too. That says a lot.

  • Tony on

    Very touching I enjoy reading your heart felt blogs makes me look at life harder and closer thank you hope your doing okay , my counseling therapist told me life is like a rollercoaster journey you meet people you gain people you lose people and get out of touch with people you go up and go down its at times a emotional journey and you meet new people

    Thank you for sharing e.d.

  • Sacha on

    You have always had a weird connection with me…although you don’t know it…lol

    I wish I could hug you. Life is full of highs & lows but always remember that you have purpose. You just might be what Alan & the Mikes were to you to somebody else.

    Blessings to you Dick. xoxo

  • Tomarie on

    The “Are you Ok?” story was the best! Lol!
    You’ve obviously been a good friend to have such close and long-term friendships. I’m sorry for your losses. Grief and suffering are just the pits. You write in a very compelling way and it felt therapeutic to read. As I hope it did for you in writing it. Thank you for sharing.

  • Gloria on

    You are a wonderful kind soul! I love your long rants from Big Brother to when you came out about having HIV to this. Thank you for sharing. I too lost someone close. You couldn’t be more right!! Never let a day pass without telling those you love just how much they mean to you. Screw society’s rules and if kids resist. HUG them, LOVE them, TELL them, every chance you get. Because in an instant they may be gone forever. And you are left with a hole in your heart that never fills.

    Stay strong Dick. You are LOVED by many!!! Me for one, even if it is just from afar and I don’t really know you. Just what you choose to share. Thank you for what you do share. You are so wise and thoughtful. πŸ’–

  • Jem on


  • Jamie petersen on

    I’m so sorry …it was,nice to read and get a peek into your life…i also lose a lot of good friends ..i wish u all the best….just try to keep yourself happy God bless you jamie

  • Jamie petersen on

    So sorry…..it was nice to look into your life …im so sorry …stay strong ox jamie

  • Karen on

    I’m so sorry Dick. A broken heart is never an easy thing. I promise in time the pain will lessen and only fond memories will shine through.

  • Suzette foy (zettypoo) on

    I am so sorry!! So nice that you stay close to your fans thru the Social Media bcuz they all love you and are a great support system! Hang in there 😊 I miss your day to day stories on Twitter bcuz you blocked me😩 I asked a question about Politics, I was curious and I guess you didn’t like it so you blocked me!! I was so sad but it made me stay off Twitter more! Lol Take Care 😊

  • Joley on

    That is very heartfelt and sad. You were truly blessed to have such great friends. My kids have been losing friends … four of them this year to overdoses and seeing their sorrow kills me. Take care and God bless

  • Pat Beaudoin on

    Wow, that was…Wow. I felt every word. What an incredible friend you are!

  • Tamra on

    What a touching and heart squeezing tribute. Thank you for writing this.

  • Jeannie on

    My heart broke for you when I read this and I’m pretty sure you aren’t the type of person who wants sympathy…but I just wanted you to know. πŸ™

  • Melissa on

    You are right life just happens… sorry for your loss we each have our own journey.

  • Cat van Zyl on

    I love U.

  • Wanda Horne on

    That was a beautiful look at a softer side of you. Thank you for sharing and giving well appreciated advise as to why we should tell people close to us how we feel about them because tomorrow is never promised.

  • Kelley on

    I know you have walked away from BB … but that is how I was made aware of your Wild character. I fell in love with you on BB. You are a no BS kind of guy and played the game the best anyone ever has. I watched after dark every night just to see what you were up to. You make me laugh and you say exactly what is in your mind. It was crushing when I found out about your diagnosis of HIV. Being in the nursing field I’ve seen some of the worst diagnosisis be given to the best people. Your story was very heart warming. You are so lucky to have had 3 best friends in your life like you have. Not all of us are as lucky. I loved your blog. It brought tears to my eyes and showed a side of you that I knew was there, but I hadn’t seen before. You are an awesome human being. You have a heart of gold, and the personality that lights up the room where ever you go. Thanks for sharing.

  • Diane Mannion on

    Hi Dick! I’m so sorry to hear about Mike. . The one you knew as a kid. I don’t know the other one but I’m sure he was a good friend. I know what it feels like to lose a best friend. Your Mom was mine. Sometimes life just sucks. You need to try to remember the good times you had with them. After a while, it will become easier on you, and bring a smile remembering all the good times. I hope you’re doing OK besides that. We’re fine and still in Arizona, stop by if you ever get out this way. hugs, Diane

  • Joice on

    dick, sorry for your losses I know there is nothing anyone can say to take the loss you feel away.
    I wish there was. healing take a long time if ever. its the best friends and their memory that puts a smile on our faces at weirdest times makes us get out of bed when we just don’t want to face the world.
    thank you for sharing this.
    I hope this year gets better.

  • Joyzelle on

    I cried reading this for 2 reasons…I could feel the depth of your friendships thru your words, and how profound your loss is, no one can fill that void, and I know how painful that is. I think I also cried because other than immediate family, I never had friendships that endured that many years, and I wish I had stayed in touch with a few. You did, and that’s a noble art these days. Thank you for sharing this…I’m going to reach out to someone tomorrow because of you!

  • Tammy on

    Your pain is yours nobody can take that from you, I am so sorry for your losses.

  • Shirley Hughes on

    Absolutely…keep in touch even for a minute…πŸ’œπŸ’œ

  • Sam on

    I sure have missed you. Haven’t said hello since the good ol’ days of MySpazz. Still love your soul just as much. *flips off how fast time passes* Be kind to your flesh suit… it needs you to carry around that stellar soul of yours that too many need to be touched by, like these people touched yours. Thanks for letting me feel the depths of you again through your refreshing candor.

    Love and Light and Peace be with you… in times of hardship, in times of exuberance.

    *big, squishy, hugs*

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