Monday, September 29, 2008

"enjoy every sandwich"

This morning, I received news that my good friend of 30 years, Keith Grinstein, had died suddenly and unexpectedly over the weekend. He was 48. I got the news by email and kept reading the email over and over again trying to figure out how I was mis-reading it. At some point I figured out reading it again wouldn’t change it. I was, and am, heartbroken.

I first met Keith when he was in high school and I was doing a summer internship with his father’s law firm. As a west coast kid, I was enthusiastic about my first year of law school back east. His father, a Yale alumnus, wanted me to share my enthusiasm for east coast schooling with his son, who at the time was trying to decide between Yale and Stanford. (I must have performed my assignment well because Keith went to Yale.) Later, for a couple of years in the ‘80’s we both lived in Manhattan Beach and traveled the world working together at the air cargo carrier, Flying Tigers. And, again, in the 90’s we both ended up working in Seattle for Craig McCaw. In recent years, I’ve maintained an office with his investment partnership, Second Avenue Partners.

Anyone who knew Keith would almost certainly recall his booming laughter as his most memorable trait. I was always envious of it. It was such a great laugh you couldn’t help but laugh with him. Our time together was inevitably spent trading wisecracks and other “witty repartee” about business, politics, friends and life. We probably got carried away at times (much to the distress of others in our company). But we loved it.

In all the years I knew him, he was never happier and sweeter than in the last few years since meeting his wife, Claire. His love for Claire magnified all his best qualities.

There were a lot of things I wanted to write today, but instead spent the day pretty much just taking stock of all the things I really appreciate in life. Gemma and I reaffirmed our love several times. I had a great cheeseburger and a couple of pints of ale with my good friend from childhood, Joseph Roberts. And then Gemma and I read to our daughters before they went to bed.

Lately, Keith had become just as obsessive as I am about the upcoming election. He was a lifelong Democrat. Like me, he had not been particularly political in the ‘90’s. (Peace and prosperity can lull you into contentment.) But that had changed over the Bush years. We typically exchanged a couple of emails a day over Obama’s prospects or other political gossip. He always sent a reply to my posts. He would have been bummed to miss out on Obama’s election and inauguration.

So, because I’m still somewhat in denial, I will just consider my future blog posts to be a continuation of my decades long dialogue with Keith and especially our recent shared obsession with Obama and the election. No doubt it would all be a lot more amusing if it were said in conversation with Keith. Even if it wasn’t, his laugh would have made me think it was.

Meanwhile, enjoy every sandwich.

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