Giuseppe sauntered over to me.
Already he had established this kind of bravado with his movements; a confidence oozed from him that you just didn't see in kids his age. I had known Giuseppe for two years at this point. We met in first grade, and I -- the shy, bookworm type -- still couldn't believe that a guy as cool, as funny, and as charming as Giuseppe chose me to be his buddy.
"Let me see your hat, Dariel," he said.
All through my life, people usually called me nicknames like "Figgy," or "Fig." Giuseppe always called me by my first name.
I gave him my hat. We had already shared clothes in school like siblings, and he was the closest thing I had to one outside of my own family. I expected him to give that hat back later in the day, perhaps after he wore it for a little while. He gave it right back.
I didn't think much of it, but when a $20 bill gently cascaded down the bridge of my nose when I attempted to put the hat on, I was confused.
"What's this?" I asked him, holding the bill.
"Happy birthday," he said.
I had forgot it was my birthday.
The enormity of his kind gesture left me shocked. People didn't give me $20 bills back then, not even generous family members. I didn't want it. I also didn't want to know where he got it.
"Here, take it back, Giuseppe," I said.
"No," he said, shoving the twenty back into my chest. "It's yours."
Since that day, I've held an adoration for Giuseppe that parallels few relationships I've ever had. He was my best friend. He was my sparring partner. He was my confidant. I could tell him anything, and he too could put his life on display for me without fear of judgement.
When he fell ill, and when his health began to severely deteriorate due to the Leukemia ravaging his body, I knew time was limited. I spent a large portion of his final days with him, sleeping at the hospital, carrying him off the bed to the bathroom while he still had the strength to do so.
I adored that time. Yes, Giuseppe was sick and dying, but I still enjoyed being with my friend, no matter his condition. We laughed. We joked. We talked about the great times we had, the girls we chased, the nights we probably had a few too many drinks.
A lot of people will tell you that Giuseppe was a great individual. We all loved him.
He had the gift of gab. He was street-wise. He was charismatic, devilishly handsome, and perhaps his greatest quality: he was enormously generous. Giuseppe had all the makings of a superstar. Had he more time on this planet, he could have been anything he wanted.
His loss has left a huge hole in my heart, but even more-so for his son, his brother, sisters and mother.
Giuseppe's family and I would like to take this time to ask that you please help donate to this cause of getting Giuseppe the proper burial and service that he deserves. For all the giving he did in his life, he passed away with not much left.
Before he passed, Giuseppe told me that he would be "up there," watching after my pregnant wife, my unborn son, and my daughter. If you find the kindness in your heart to donate to this cause, I'm sure Giuseppe will be smiling down on you as well.
Blessings to you and Happy Holidays,
Giuseppe D'Agostino's family will be handling the service and burial. All donations will go this cause.
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