Love and Friendship: Butterflies & Ponies are Forever

Carl, Dave, Paul  at Youth Conference 2000
The title is deceiving. This weekend has been a rough one for my family and those close to us. One of my husband's closest friends passed away on Friday; Paul.
McInzie, Meredith, Paul, Dave, Carl and Cheyenne
October 2004; Before Paul left for bootcamp
I think I met Paul about four times.  He lived in New Jersey and lived a pretty different lifestyle than I was living at those times.  Those moments he was there were important ones for our family and his.  He and his (now) wife flew out for our wedding, and a little after Cami was born to meet her.  In turn, Dave flew out to Jersey for his wedding and we both attended the reception and mini-ceremony in Salt Lake.
Each time we met up, Paul and Leah both greeted me with hugs upon arrival and hugs when they left our house/apartment. Paul exhibited a genuine love every time. I don't mean that in a cheap way that some people say after someone passes away. Paul was an amazing man and my heart hurts that it was cut so short.
Dave grew up in a South Jordan suburb and essentially grew up with the same small group of friends: Brad, Carl, Paul and Shaun. There were a few that rotated in and out of that group. They were the closest group of friend that I have ever met.  After more than 20 years they still meet up and pick up where they left off. I'm totally not used to that. Their friendship and love is so fantastic and it makes Paul's passing that much more difficult. Love is important, but love is hard.
Carl, Dave and Paul
It's well-known in Dave's small circle that Paul has had a hard time.  He was a Marine and served over in Afghanistan or Iraq. I don't know a lot of details. He was shot pretty critically in his service and one of his legs was messed up for life. While recovering with this crazy pain in his leg, survivor guilt and PTSD; he struggled with substance abuse in pain killers and other drugs. During this rough patch, he was living in New Jersey near a VA hospital that could help him with those things. He met Leah at a bar. She was a waitress and they hit it off. They have been together for a long time and like all relationships, it wasn't perfect.
They both made mistakes. They were married last year, but marriage can't always fix things.
I was talking to Dave about love, butterflies and ponies.  When you first meet and over the course of the first year; your relationship with each other is full of gooey butterflies and ponies. After that things change and people sometimes say they fall out of love. I don't think that those feelings fade after a year.
Love, butterflies and ponies are still there when you see those closest to you; those family, friends and/or spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend. I think it's like when you make those delicious "poke cakes".
Right after you make a cake, and it's still hot, you poke some holes and pour something like caramel or sweetened condensed milk on the cake.  At first the caramel sits on top and you can see and taste it whenever you want.  Pretty soon it soaks through the holes and fills the cake with that extra spike of sugary goodness. You can't see the flavor anymore, but it's there soaking your cake in something amazing.
You may think your love is fading, that the butterflies and ponies have all run off to someone or something else; but they are just deeper, somewhere intimate and close to you. It's still there. Love changes, but it's constant as long as you are.
My husband's relationship with Paul changed due to choices and distance, but they were close friends and that doesn't change; it's just deeper. Deep enough so that you think it doesn't matter, but then something drastic changes like death or loss and they return so quick you feel like you've been hit by a bus and things will be different forever. Love didn't fade. Butterflies & ponies are forever.