Lesson 16: Life is shorter than you think

How would you feel if he/she died tomorrow?

This is how I will filter every life problem from here on out. Whatever issue, disagreement or “big” thing that might be causing me to consider drawing a serious line in the sand… how would I feel if that person no longer existed tomorrow? Cause they might not.

My friend (and former roommate), Bart Kahn, died suddenly last Thursday at age 46. I still don’t know why, or how – but I do know that up until a few days ago he was fine: posting on Facebook, eating dinner at Sardi’s, even joking about being mistaken for a sexual predator after dialing a wrong number and asking for “2 boys, one in heels.” He was a Broadway talent agent looking for casting options.

Bart and I grew very close while and after we lived together. What started as a temporary fix for both of us turned into a shared blessing. He was recovering from months of being hospitalized and needed a transitional place in the city. I was deciding whether to let my boyfriend officially move in with me and needed the rent. The three of us basically lived together for a while, and it was kind of wonderful.

Bart took us to the theater, even gave us an exclusive backstage tour of “Lion King.” And I will always laugh thinking of him and his friends sitting expectantly on the couch every Saturday afternoon, JUST as my police officer boyfriend would emerge from my bedroom in uniform on his way to work. He was straight candy to their gay eyes 😉

We remained close after he moved out, but had a disagreement about a year or so ago when I was emotionally distraught about my breakup. And even though I apologized more than twice, our relationship was never the same. I tried many times to make plans with him in the past year, but he never seemed to want to get together. I missed his friendship dearly, but after a while I stopped trying. I wish I hadn’t.

I’ll never know what happened, or why he was reluctant to see me. You can’t force someone to spend time with you, or make them share what might be making them uncomfortable. But I somehow wonder if I had kept trying, and genuinely let him know how much I missed him – maybe we could have gotten past it. And I deeply regret whatever it was that I said that pushed him away in the first place.

We are all so fragile, as are our relationships. I guess the lesson is to choose our words and treat eachother with the utmost care. Remembering that we might not get a second chance. And tomorrow could be too late to say I’m sorry.

I’ll miss you, Bart. And I’m truly sorry.

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9 thoughts on “Lesson 16: Life is shorter than you think

  1. Your words were beatiful and although i never had the pleasure to meet Bart in person I feel the love and loss sooo many are experiening. My son was a client of Barts for the past two years. He went on what would be his last appointment Bart booked for him. Im truly sorry for your loss. If we could all live each day to the fullest and remember to tell our love ones what they mean. Try not to beat yourself up. You tried and Bart knew you loved him.

  2. Bart was a regular industry guest at my comedy shows and was scheduled as recent as April 7th. He canceled last minute because of the Jewish Holiday, and I was like “come on I’m a Jew too, but as a gay Jew you can’t really take this stuff serious”? He said “I can’t work on Passover” and I had this new respect for him. Because I chose to work on Passover as the show must go on. He was on my to do list today to call to reschedule, unknown to me that he was on God’s to do list last week. I will sorely miss him, so will the dozens of comics whose act he came to see, providing invaluable feedback. Don’t be upset with yourself, you tried to stay close, and well, we gays can be fickle. May peace be with you, Bart would want it that way.

  3. Thanks for this. I’m still shaken by this news, having had a rift with him that lasted well more than a decade. He emailed me a month ago asking how I was. It was a nice, however brief, exchange which I’ll have to accept as our closure. I only wish I had followed my impulse to invite him for a drink. You’ve summed up very well the lesson I’m taking with me.

    1. I know exactly how you feel, Cary. Thanks for sharing – somehow it makes me feel a little better. Hope I did the same for you. It seems at least his death won’t be in vain – so many are feeling so much by his passing. I for one will never be the same.

  4. Have you found out what happened? I met Bart about ten years ago when I lived in the city, and we dated for a short while. He was an amazing, funny, genuine, young man. He took me to see Cabaret at Studio 54, which he was SM for. I JUST found out he passed, and I am shocked. I have been out of the country performing on a tour for a while, and this comes as awful news to me. He will be missed, and my memories of him are all fantastic. I wonder what happened to his RENT book?

    1. I’m Bart’s sister, Gaby. I’m reading all of these things about Bart. It will be 4 years in April that he is gone and yet the pain is still so real. Today is his birthday.
      It makes me smile to hear such nice things about him, even if they were written a few years back. When he passed away I was so overwhelmed by the impact he had made on so many people. I mean to me, he was a wonderful, at times crazy older brother. But I did not know the magnitude of his effect on other people. This made me feel so proud.
      I think of Bart everyday and keep him close to me. I also keep in touch with his closest friends and love seeing them. When I’m with them it’s bittersweet. I know Bart would want this.
      There are times when I can think back to before his death and say I should have done this…but I try to focus on the important stuff like how lucky I was for the very great times we had..
      I make his life known to my children ..
      I have all of Bart’s memorabilia, including his rent book. How he loved all that shit!
      He will forever be with me and my family.❤

      1. Hi Gaby! I hope you get some comfort in knowing that your pain is shared, and by being reminded of how much Bart meant to so many people.

        No doubt he was a much needed, and much appreciated, friend (and roommate) in my life – if only for a short time. I think anyone who knew him also knew how much he adored you, your mom and especially your kids.

        Love and healing to you all. xoxox

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