community · fortitude · gratitude · grief · love

Be Lightning.

It will be impossible to write today without acknowledging
yesterday. Puffy eyed and dehydrated, as if I drank all the salt water
that I poured out yesterday.
A bottle of root beer was spilled ceremony-like into a glass
of vanilla ice cream. Like when someone spills a person’s favorite drink onto
their grave in memoriam.
Someone chuckled at the number of women he’d slept with who
came to the funeral. That that said something, that they all showed up.
A woman he worked with told about the practical jokes he’d
done at work, like rearranging her cubicle when she was gone for lunch, so that
when she came in, it was all walled in and backwards, and she couldn’t get into
What I thought of him was that he
was like the initial spark of a lightning bolt. That all of the ions became
electrified just by being in his
vicinity, just by being adjacent to him. That suddenly the whole place, the
whole sky was lit up. He had that effect.
I am not among the women he slept
with. I was not friends with him in a familiar, close way. But I was in his
vicinity, often, and I too had been lit up by him. Heartened by his just being
there, even if he was sulky and sarcastic, as he was more and more. It just
felt good to know him. Just to know he was here.
There were more than 200 people
there yesterday, with standing room only, and all the doors to the small chapel
opened wide for people to crowd in together. I shook with repressed sobs. His
mother was in a mildly hysterical, altered state that you associate with
someone with dementia – oh, isn’t this nice, what’s your name. …
In Judaism, parents who have lost
a child get a free pass to heaven, no questions asked. In Judaism, we also
don’t do open caskets. So this was the first time I’d been near a … one.
Awkward in his My Girl made-up face. The slight raised angle of his
eyebrows toward the middle that always made him look like he was eager, or
I’d written a blog a while back
about death, and how it occurred to me that what was left was love, and
children’s laughter. There was a child there yesterday, his nephew, playing
outside the opened doors where people were crowding in. And love is not even
the right word for what was felt in that chapel yesterday. It’s not even close
to big enough.
With no other course, I am
inspired to honor this life, his life, by attempting to be a fraction of the electric ion that he was. To quit my solitude and hiding. To love as
much as I can, as I know I’m here to do. And lastly, with no other course, to accept that this had to be done. That this was necessary. That he needed to go home. That he needed to go back. 
For all of the lives you brightened. For the one thing that held you back from “getting it.” For addiction’s baffling ability to cut us down. And for your legacy that poured from every eye in that chapel.  May you be at peace. 

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