I am not really good at separation. I like my friends to stay close and not be drawn by their own will towards some chimeric life that takes them out of mine. It is a selfish thing. I understand that means I carry a forever and perpetual disappointment. Grief is the honor and reward you receive for connection. We don’t miss those we do not love. Whether divided by time, distance, or the sheer and gauzy curtain between death and life, to miss a person is to feel the absence of a presence, like a rock in your pocket that slips through a hole.
It is always startling. The moment when you learn that things are going to change. Sometimes there is a ceremony, the gift of a broken alarm clock, wound to the minute that is passing handed over in the leeward hours of a house party outside on the curb. “Cheers brother.” Then New York City. Then Singapore.
In Spanish we say “Te echo de menos” which means “I miss you,” but literally it is far more interesting. I feel the pain of your absence.
So it is true, I feel the pain of many absences.
It is a shame that we can only live one life you know? Only pick one path? I go back to a time when I was part of a crew that was all on the same path for a little while. The Florida Boys, people called us, as we marauded about the planet. What kept us together back then was an affinity for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the Beastie Boys, and for me at least, a real yearning to see what kind of salt I had in me. We moved west first. I always knew I would come back to Florida, but for many of the Florida Boys it was a one way trip. I was just a tourist, but they were settlers- now some are more settled than others.
I talked to one of them yesterday. I write about him here frequently, mainly about his bike skills, sometimes about his artwork. That is the easy stuff that is fun to celebrate. Through him I still travel the west from Blackcomb peak to Los Barriles. Through me he gets to write grants, draft up some sweet policy and procedure, and know the joy of an apricot poodle shrilly defending the home from the breeze as it disturbs the screen door. Through my friends I live so many lives. I am a Chief Petty Officer in the Coast Guard, a deer hunter. I play bass and lead a Latin jazz quartet.
So on this call yesterday I learned that I, through the corporeal body inhabited by my brother, crashed on a mountain. 6 broken ribs and vertebral facets, a clavicle shredded like snapped bamboo, a knee twisted backwards and freed of it’s tendonous mooring, and most arresting a head injury that left him (us?) unconscious in the dirt and for the long journey from dirt to hospital bed. The cost of living is sometimes quite high. I am sure he has heard “You better slow down.” “Are you done now?” Lots of patronizing options to choose from I am sure.
Those folks must not know us.
Today raise a glass to the broken, the hurt, and the healing.
Hang in there Todd, Neighbor Ed, Sasquatch and whoever else. You can’t be kept down.