some words on death

I’ve been so focused on the horrific political violence in the news and in the world lately that I found myself caught off-guard by feelings about other kinds of loss.

Seven years ago, in December, a boy I knew died. Young man, I guess. He seemed so much older than me, and it baffles me to think I am five years older now than he was then. An acquaintance, I guess, a friend-of-friends, very close to people I would later be very close to, a crush more than anything else, someone I wanted to know better than I did. Twice this week I’ve come across textual references to his suicide that caught me by surprise. 

How strange, when googling someone I met in college, for the absurdly innocuous reason of trying to accurately remember the color of her hair– I had somehow forgotten she had written his obituary in the school newspaper. 

Reading a book about death by someone who knew him better than I did, I should have known it was coming, but I was still so ill-prepared. The brief remarks hit me right in the guts. Thud, thud. 

I suppose the shock of losses do not fade, but rather they are joined by others and that changes them. A polyphonic chorus swells until the coda of its hearer’s death.

Sometimes I stop believing in time,

(sometimes lately I can’t stop feeling terrified that my father has died when I remember no one has heard from him in weeks, that he never called me back when I stood waiting for a stoplight to turn on his birthday and sang into his machine, that even though I know my uncles would know if anything really bad happened and someone would tell me, the thought keeps jolting through my brain)

(sometimes lately I can’t stop feeling terrified that this boy I spend some time with will get hit by a bus or fall off a building or any number of things I’m scared to write down because I don’t want them to happen, I get terrified that suddenly he’ll just drop out of the world and I know this is my anxiety talking, the obsessive-compulsive evidence of how much affection I’ve come to feel, and really I should just get some cognitive behavioral therapy and get laid more)

and I know that each moment that occurs hangs somewhere in time, and we are passing a handle of Jim Beam back and forth in someone’s living room until you fall asleep there and I stumble home, always.