Monday, January 19, 2015

In Memory

Tommy's dead.
I lost a grandmother and then a cousin back in elementary school. But last Tuesday was the first time I've seen someone my age in a coffin.
We weren't close. At least, not anymore. He lived just up the street when we were kids. When I was in kindergarten and he was in first grade, we lined up in parallel rows to get our school pictures taken. Our moms were college roommates and we took his family to Lake Powell last summer. Tommy didn't come. He was on the fasttrack. Work-study-sleep-repeat.
I knew him, but if you asked me a week ago to describe him, I'd say, "Tommy likes soccer."
But I put on a black skirt and shuffled through the line with my family. I felt so out of place surrounded by Tommy's real friends and family. Then, to my surprise, I ran into someone I knew, an ex-classmate who transferred to some computer focused school forty five minutes away. I never counted her as a friend. I wouldn't have shown up to her viewing.
The line was slow and I had nothing better to do, so I wandered over to her and her entourage and made stinted conversation. "How'd you know him/work/childhood/that's sad/I'm sorry/thanks for talking."
Here were people who knew Tommy. Their pain was real. What right did I have to claim it?
Then  I got to talking to them and realized just how much they didn't know.
They don't know that he had an obese chihuahua named Taco. They don't know that his mom would come home from class everyday and belt Broadway. They don't know that his sister swallowed a razor battery when she was a baby and burned a hole through her esophagus. But I don't know the name of his best friend. His favorite color. How he got a hold of heroin in the first place.
Everyone on this planet is somehow connected to the rest of its inhabitants. I used to think I had to be close to someone before I deserved to shed a tear. Now. instead of claiming my share of the grief, I'm going to mourn him as if he belonged to me.

1 comment:

  1. This is beautiful.

    I've had a few family members die, including a heroin overdose, and a suicide.
    I've never felt the pain of having a friend die, but when I hear about a child or teen dying on the news, I cry a little inside.

    I've loved you blog(s) for a long time, we may be in different stages of growing up, I'm 14, but I feel like your blog posts express what I think about on a regular basis.
    I'm sorry for the loss of your friend...