On Wednesday evening I returned. I was driving through the lights and noise and cement. All of which I dislike. The storm was a mixture of rain and sleet. New England is gearing up for another winter. I’m stuck in near gridlock traffic while traveling one of the major corridors through Hartford, CT. I’m traveling south east, toward the beach where I live.
This weather and traffic mirrored my internal conflict. I’d left my best friend alone. He lost his father unexpectedly. I spent the night on his couch after the service. The service was outside in a New England ice storm. Many people were again without power. We stood soaking wet and watched as his father was laid to rest. Death becomes us all. I’m unafraid of death. I watched as my friend struck the dirt with a shovel in hand and flung it down onto his father. It landed loudly on the coffin. He is the only son and he was the first with the shovel. I watched his sister do the same, then others. When I held the shovel I said ‘you son of a bitch’ and dropped the dirt. I feel he’s never gone, we’re never gone.
I had more to say to him, face-to-face. As did everyone standing in the storm. We weren’t done with him. Now we speak to him in our minds and at our symbols. He could be a chair. We sit on him and make him listen. I needed to tell him that he’s in my book and that I see the best of him. I don’t see the needle. I don’t see the self harm. I don’t care. I see the man that we all loved, still love and still talk to. I called him a son of a bitch because I am selfish and I wanted to tell him he was in my book. Now he knows. I’m on a chair and I’m making him listen.
His son held his drink high. He wanted to cheers our friendship and his father. It was left over spit from chew. He asked what was wrong with the whiskey. We said nothing, drink the rest fast. He asked why the whiskey smelled odd. He son doesn’t drink. He doesn’t needle. He works with children and is a Saint. His son is my best friend and just drank the spit of chew that was left behind by another. Now he wants to know what’s wrong with the whiskey and we laugh harder than possible and cheers his father because his son is now running for the toilet to be rid of rotten whiskey that isn’t whiskey and we know this moment will be forever. His father is gone but watching. His father knows his son is a Saint.
I’m driving through a New England storm to return. My friend is home, alone for the first time since the service. I’m thinking of him and of life and death. I reach out the window and take a picture. So many lights. Some are already dead.