Death Doesn’t Steal Our Memories

12 segundos de oscuridad

This story may be familiar to some of you because every year I make a point to honor my friend.

“In one of those stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night. And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend…I shall not leave you.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

I made them cry, not him or her but them. You can tell me it wasn’t my fault or that it is not my responsibility but I won’t accept it.

That is because I was the one who made the telephone calls. I was the one who called our friends and told them you were dead.

Some of them screamed and some of sniffled in silence but I heard their voices and we shared the pain of your loss.

Today is your birthday or should I say it would have been. I don’t have a clue what you would have done for this one or where you would be living.

Maybe you would be married and maybe you would be a father. It is a relatively easy guess to make and probably not far off of the mark.

Instead of writing to you and wondering if somewhere you can hear, see, feel or read this I would call you and make some crack about how old you are. You’d give me some sort of sarcastic response and I’d tell you about my family.

It wouldn’t be the first time. I have visited your grave and sat next to you. I have told you about your funeral and how very blue the skies were. It was hot that day and not just because we were wearing black suits.

Nor was it because we buried you.

That has always been important to me. We buried you because you were loved by your friends. We buried you because it was among the last kindness we could bestow directly upon you.

Every year I remember the moment when I saw your mother’s face while I was shoveling dirt on your casket. It was horrifying then and as a father it is only made worse.

Yet there is a piece of me that smiles because I know you would have done the same for me and because I know your parents appreciated it. I know that in this moment of utter horror they knew that people who cared about you were doing our best to help.

We would have done more. We wanted to. Had we known earlier we could have helped carry the load. You knew more than us. You knew this was coming sooner but didn’t say.

Perhaps it was your choice, but we would have listened. We would have shared more with you during a time when we could both communicate.

Life is pretty good now. It has its challenges but that is to be expected. I keep tabs with your siblings and your parents. They are good too.

I don’t regret having had to make those calls or having been a part of the merry men of grave digging. Shit happens and we deal with it.

You are gone but not forgotten. You helped change more lives than you know and that is a legacy to be proud of.

Happy Birthday old friend, I’ll see you again.

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13 Comments

  1. MoreInMedia July 30, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Jack, you are friend to be proud of!  (I had to step back from the computer as I had tears in my eyes after reading.) I wanted to read this b/c my dad is dying. He is in Europe. I am in the US. Learning more about grieving now will hopefully give me the strength to go through the process with him now and my mom after. Thank you for sharing.

    • TheJackB July 30, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      MoreInMedia Hi Dorien,
      I am sorry to hear about your father. None of this is easy. I have been down this road a few times which I suppose makes me more familiar with some of it, but not necessarily any more comfortable.
      What I am certain of is that it is important to tell those we love and care about whatever it is we need to say sooner than later. The friend I wrote about here was very dear and there came a point at which communication was strictly one way. I mention it only because I hope he heard what I had to say, but I would have been more comfortable being certain he did.

  2. Poptism July 30, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Great post I recently lost my best friend and had the honor of delivering his eulogy. His son had just turned one, and a few weeks later he was gone. He wanted nothing more than to be a father for his son and to build his family with his wife. Now it’s up to friends like us to honor their lives and remember them. Great post.

  3. BetsyKCross July 30, 2013 at 2:49 am

    “a legacy to be proud of” ~ as is each life lived. 
    My best friend, Lisa, is dying. She may or may not get a liver transplant in time. She has accepted that. All I can think of is how many memories we’ve made..and the impact that her love has had on her friends and family.
    Thanks for this post.

  4. geoffliving July 29, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Amazingly powerful. Thank you.

  5. Jojanneke Van Den Bosch July 29, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    <3 That’s beautiful and heart felt.

  6. Casey B July 29, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Wow, Jack. 
    What a post. Happy Birthday to your friend. My heart is with you as you remember today. 
    Take care, 
    Casey

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