I know I’m in the habit of writing Proust-length posts but today, I won’t. I can’t. It isn’t that I don’t have a lot on my mind, a lot to share. I could write chapters on the time I got to spend with Trey Pennington these past few years. I could sit here and tell you how much respect I had for the guy and how much I liked him – genuinely liked him – like when you meet someone for the first time and you instantly know you’re going to be friends for life. I could tell you about all of the Social Media Clubs he started all over the South East, about all of the lives and careers he touched all over the world, about the selfless work he did behind the scenes that no one knew about, that he never sought to take credit for. I could tell you about the rat-hole of a hotel he and I accidentally stayed in on one of our trips to London, and in a spectacular turn of fortune, the conversations about life and love and the future he and I had a year later, stretching late into the night in the warm heart of Dartmoor’s luxurious Bovey Castle. I could tell you so many anecdotes about Trey, about his infectious “aw shucks” southern charm, his gentlemanly disposition, his generous heart and the infinite kindness of his spirit. Hanging out with Trey, you got to glimpse a side of humanity that we seldom see anymore. He was the most caring and unselfish individual I have ever met. There was a pure, innocent quality about him that, once glimpsed, inspired you to be a better, kinder, gentler man. There was only one Trey, and now he’s gone.

So… my heart just isn’t in it today. I’ll never again hear the distinctive timbre of Trey’s voice reach for me across a crowded room. We’ll never again run into each other half-way across the world and joke about how, although we live less than five miles from each other, we only see each other overseas. We’ll never again clink glasses and quietly sip perfectly aged Grand Marnier in the world’s most out-of-the-way pubs and random hotel bars. And now we’ll never have that coffee he and I always planned on having. I always thought I was too busy. I always put it off. If there isn’t a lesson here, I don’t know what else to tell you.

I could go on and tell you that the world was better with Trey in it, that we needed more of him, not less, that he should have made a great CMO, the perfect marketing professor, a golden mentor for an entire new generation of marketing and business professionals, but so what. All I know is that he was my friend, and now he’s gone. Gone. Forever. No rewinding the tape. No turning back the clock. No re-do. Gone. I couldn’t have given two shits if he had been a janitor or a fry cook instead of an international speaker. I never knew how many twitter followers he had or how many friends on Facebook or how much klout he had. None of it ever mattered to me. I just liked hanging out with him. I liked talking shop with him. I liked to hear him laugh at my stupid dick jokes. I am heartbroken. Completely, utterly heartbroken.

Guys like him don’t grow on trees. He was the only Trey Pennington, and now he’s gone, and that’s it. I feel like someone just hit me in the stomach with a cricket bat, and writing post really isn’t helping, so here are some pictures I found of Trey, stuff I shot or that other people snapped with my camera. This is how I knew him.  This was the world we shared. Aside from the memories and the record of his blog and Facebook page and Twitter account, this is all that’s left.

Godspeed, buddy. I miss you already.