It's taken me a while to write this post. Part of that is not wanting to, but also not knowing how to.
A good acquaintance of mine passed unexpectedly just before Christmas 2020. I'm not going to use his name in this post, as I'm not sure of the details surrounding his death, but also out of respect for those who lost him. The people who knew him better than I did.
Writing those words, his death, is surreal.
Surrealness is often a feeling that comes with grief, but it's especially poignant with this loss.
He was a bit younger than me. Twenty, I think. Maybe twenty-one. A total ball of sunshine who radiated utter joy. The human equivalent of a labradoodle with the most infectious smile you'd ever see and everything ahead of him.
But that light's gone. Extinguished with no warning. No answers. Just gone.
When I found out, it was about ten minutes before it truly began to register. The air in my lungs dried up in an instant. I felt sick, like my body was rejecting the sheer notion altogether. But the tears that so often flow in these instances didn't come.
Until it finally hit. And I wept.
In all of the chaos and uncertainty that was the utter dumpster hellfire that was 2020, this was one of if not the lowest point for me. The hardest shock to withstand.
Even now, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it. There's this sensation I can only describe as floating in a sea of ambiguity. My head's above water but I'm still feeling submerged in I-don't-even-know-what.
Out of all people, why him? In what world is this okay? To have someone so full of life have his cut so short. It's unfair. As my mother put it, there should be rules about this, against it. No way that this could happen.
When someone who deserves the best is dealt a horrible hand in life, it's a shattering blow for those who loved them.
That was especially true with his.
Typically, when a loved one passes, I find myself shutting down, not wanting to talk to anyone and just riding out the heartache of it.
This time around, things are starkly different.
"Life is short" is an adage that gets thrown around a lot, but the only thing fitting for this. The brevity and temporariness of everything has been shoved in my face and I acted upon it, texting and DMing about a half-dozen people before I made myself put my phone away. Some close friends I'm in seemingly constant contact with, others I love but haven't checked in with for a bit because life found a way to get in the way. Just a simple, admittedly somewhat incoherent, text. I'm genuinely bad with communication and staying in contact with folks, but something about all of this made me want to reach out. Because you never know.
I hate that this loss was the thing to inspire what I should have been doing all along. But I guess that's a testament to the life he lived. When someone lives their life in a way that touches so many by just being themselves and it makes you want to reach out and connect in the same way, that is just so special—and makes the loss of that person all the more devastating because a true spark of light was taken too soon and without reason.
In truth, I'm glad I don't know the particulars. Knowing how it happened would make it more concrete. Finite. Just a fact, not the same kind of wondering what he's up to or how he's doing.
I find myself hoping it was quick and without pain, not drawn out, that it was something that just happened to him and not something he did or because of a mistake he made. Even though I long to have an understanding for even an ounce of this, I know that is impossible. But I take a strange comfort in not knowing because it lets me decide my own version of it, even if it's one I keep to myself. Finding some semblance of peace in the storm.
It may not be the ending he deserved, but the one I would want for him.
As with sitting down to write this post and not being sure how to begin it, I'm not really sure how to end it.
In some ways, this kind of feels like I'm writing a eulogy for this gem of a guy, and as I'm writing it I know it won't amount to everything I'd want it to be. Not enough to encapsulate everything he was, and everything that he was going to be, what could have been and everything he deserved.
But I couldn't not write something.