“Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more. Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.”
Another repost from June.
Loss means three distinct things to me. First, loss as I think we all understand it, a death, a break-up, something had and now lost. Second, it’s a longing for things we never knew, a nostalgia for the unknown. And finally, it’s straying from who we are, for reasons as varied as there are people in this world, losing oneself.
Today I will talk about the first type of loss.
Loss, to lose, to have had and not to have anymore, thoughts of a great friend gone flash through my head. Everything he was and we were snatched out of thin air when he died. He was there, and then he was not. But was it that simple?
When he died he lived in France and I lived in Utah. I hadn’t seen him in half a year. We did not talk very often. It was before Whatsapp and smartphones, even before emails were the go-to for long distance communication. One day, he was there, in my life and then he was not, but I did not know it until my mother called to let me know. I didn’t feel the air leave the room suddenly as I watched TV with my friends. I was fine for the few hours between his dying and my knowing it. My life was the same, yet it was already different, I just didn’t know about it.
He was a dear, dear friend. He was forty years my elder, and yet the best friend I ever had. In the beginning I saved his life and later he saved mine, but these are stories for another time. Together we travelled the French Riviera, the Italian countryside and the streets of New York City, always laughing up a storm, silly and serious, always comfortable in the other’s presence regardless of the situation, a rare thing in my life. There was nothing we did not discuss. We philosophized in Central Park, talking to pigeons like St Francis of Assisi did. We took the silly, tinny tourists train in Bonifacio, in Corsica. And we flirted with waitresses up and down Lake Cuomo. We clicked, we just did and it was awesome.
But then he died. All the plans of world tours we had vanished, all the things we hadn’t said to each other, all the laughs we didn’t share, all the moments, deep and goofy that were to come never came. It was a loss that punched me in the gut like few things have in my life. Even just typing about it so many years later the memory still swells tight in my throat. I cried a lot into the hole his death had left in my life. There was, it seemed, no way to fill it up.
But then, what was I crying about? The things that never would be? The things we were that were no more? But those would always be. What we were, what we shared -and how wonderful those things are-, because that’s the trick, isn’t it, all the things we were, we still are. His death didn’t rob me of them, only of what might have been. And that’s how I decided to look at it. I have what we were, what we are, I would say, despite him being gone. Why focus on might-have-beens when there is so much left of what we were, of what we are, still.