Chad Deal 5:05 p.m., May 23
Curled up in bed with my headphones on listening to Matisyahu on Pandora, I absorb the news. Alone in his apartment in a small east coast town, a friend of mine died mysteriously. His body wasn’t found for days.
This sobering thought is what my mind has adhered to like asphalt warmed gum to the bottom of an unsuspecting shoe. He was not a recluse as I can be. He was not unliked. Rather, he had a string of life long friends with whom he spent time with. He had an amicable ex and a doting daughter. He had a bus load of little boys decked in pads and helmets who looked for him eagerly at football practice. He had his rugby buds, and his softball pals. And, he had me who dragged him on hikes in all kinds of weather.
He kissed me once. I didn’t like it. Things had been a bit off since then. I left and although he sometimes called, I rarely did. He pined for me, he had said. I didn’t want to mislead him, and despite my missing of him, I slowly withdrew. Not because I didn’t enjoy our talks, but because somewhere about seven thousand miles into my outward bound travels I found someone I had long known but had all but forgotten, someone my soul had secretly yearned for. Someone I fell in love with beneath the Miami moon.
Now, both men are in the Beyond, in the Unknown Zone, unreachable and all that I might now want to say or share is moot. Folding into myself I feel the September crispness chilling the evening air and watch a spider climb the wall. I shiver feeling small and insignificant as yet another San Diego sunset is cast against the window pane. Wrapping myself with my arms, I choke back bile knowing that I had failed our friendship.
I don’t know what I could have done differently that would have mattered, that would have made a difference other than let him know that he was of value to me, that his life made mine happier, that he had become part of my fiber. Memories are etched forever in my weary mind: picking crabs and dipping strawberries, long talks about nothing and everything, belly busting laughs that made my cheeks ache, slow looks of aligned recognition, walking in time, sweetness of thoughtful yet simple gestures, and so very many smiles. A pink dress, a close dance, and blueberry eyes. Sharing the layers of our suffering and the depth of unimaginable joy.
Time will forget him, will forget me. Will forget us. Only moments in the Now seem to live. All else dissipates with the light of day into blind nothingness of eternal night. In the darkness I grope feebly at something my grand mother loved to say, “waste not, want not.”