"Friend" is one of those words that falls legions short of its intent. When you say friend, what you really mean is something more along the lines of "really super person who makes me feel better about myself" or "encourager, laugher, smiler, and advice giver."
For lack of a better word, Dennis Freeland was my friend. When I was down on my luck, panicked and depressed, Dennis gave me a job and then helped me do that job. When I had doubts about my abilities or questioned my judgment, Dennis reassured and reinforced me. He was my editor and my boss and he filled those roles superbly - but he did it all with a wry smile and a sense of humor - traits most writers can only dream their editors will have.
He'd offer up some wry observation, a quippy remark, or a knowing smirk. Dennis was the person I could always count on to get my jokes and laugh at them - even when we both knew they weren't funny.
Even when he was mad, he was pleasant. His face would get red, he'd vent for a second and then, invariably, that smile would break out again. His anger would pass and he'd figure out a way to fix whatever the current problem was.
In fact, all of the words that come to mind when I think of Dennis seem insufficient to describe him. Pleasant, nice, kind, warm, funny - these are simple words, no triple word scores here. But they're words that can only honestly describe a few in our midst. Dennis was one of those few. And while I'm happy that I was able to know him,
I'm sad that I didn't know him longer and I'm sadder still for those who never knew him at all.
Pleasant, nice, kind, warm, funny - I'm really going to miss my friend.