My childhood friend died unexpectedly last week. Yesterday, I flew to North Carolina for his memorial. I saw faces I hadn’t seen in 25 years, like distant dreams you can’t quite piece together.
I spent the evening with his parents sharing memories, drinking bourbon on a deck he’d built from scratch. A koi pond bubbled in the background. It was draped in a thin, nearly invisible net to protect the fish from predators.
We used to play Dungeons and Dragons on the deck he had replaced.
Everything seems so trite within sorrow. You seek out the ernest, the credible–those who give the type of hugs that make you want to collapse.
I can’t imagine burying one of my kids.
I wish I could break up people’s pain like one of those spaceships on the game of Asteroids. I’d bust that shit up and distribute it evenly about the universe, bust it into smaller particles that are easier for one person to deal with.
Things splinter as we age. We don’t say what we mean or how we feel. We sit on opposite aisles in a gritted silence.
As I write this, my two year old is throwing the biggest tantrum of his life. For him, this is huge. It’s passionate and necessary. He overturned a chair and threw controllers to the floor. I get it.
But you’ve got to work this part out on your own.
He eventually calmed down and collapsed into my arms.
I used my words yesterday with the guy working the desk at a Days Inn in Raleigh. And when that didn’t work I threw an adult tantrum. It was huge and necessary. But when I calmed down, I apologized and ate crow. “I’m not normally a total asshole.” I said.
We need to tell people when we are sad. Because I’m realizing most people are. And if it needs to get to a point of tantrum, so be it. Someone will be there to hug you and let you collapse. I know this because we are not alone in this world, though it feels that way a great deal of the time.
I wish I’d taken my shoes off last night. Socks too. It would have been nice to let my feet touch.
And I wish his pain had been protected by a net.