FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Remembering Sir!!
From time to time, I am asked about my writing “process.” I use the quotation marks, because I hope it eliminates any serious discussion about me actually having a process. I think things and I write about them, very simple. The only somewhat staple element is when I think of things. I think better in motion. I think my most important thoughts while mowing the lawn or washing the dishes. I find it kind of ironic thinking such important thoughts while doing mostly unimportant things. Today was no exception. I did some yard work and took a trip to the dump. I had many ideas that would have made fun and no doubt touching and insightful reading. However, one thought that was not that much fun kept coming back to me.
Almost a year and a half ago, my buddy, Brian, died and I was thinking about him today. I was thinking about his family who just returned from a trip to Hawaii and how much he was certainly missed during this adventure. He is missed everyday by the people who knew and loved him. A hole exists in many lives.
On this semi-nice late winter day, while raking weeds and blowing sidewalks, I was thinking about Brian and thought a reminder about the value of our lives’ little moments and the people we share them with was appropriate. We all have our own “Brians”: people that matter to us and it is important not to take any time, no matter how seemingly innocuous or inconsequential for granted. All time is consequential. It’s all we have and sometimes it is gone in a blink and way too soon.
Here is the column I wrote after Brian left us: “Sir!!!”
My friend died last week. It was a tragedy on a scale not yet invented. Its impact on his family and friends cannot be measured. The value of a single life is often overlooked and taken for granted, until it is gone. Only then do we REALLY know what it meant. It meant everything. Every person means everything. There is nothing more important than a single person.
Each day, death lines the middle pages of newspapers and statistic forms as a tool to inspire readership or funding. The face of death has become faceless. We have become numb to what it really means. Until a late night phone call changes everything after it and a world that once was, will never be again. A lot is made of “just causes” and “higher purposes”, but they are all bullshit to the people left behind to sleeplessly wander the wee-hours, wide-eyed, searching for answers that do not exist. These people know what matters; another day, another moment with the lost one, to embrace, to share a birthday or watch a game. They would pay or trade all that they have for one more moment. These moments cannot, however, be bargained for. They exist for as long as they do and no more. It is just so, for all of us. One never knows when a life that was will no longer be. The phone could ring at any time for anyone, without warning or even a tiny hint.
Death, though, in a peculiar irony, truly shines a light on life. We gain a greater understanding and appreciation of life’s fickle impermanence and the urgency to live it how we want and with whom we love. This is little solace, but it is not nothing. Viewing the world and the people we share it with, with a more loving, less critical, more forgiving eye seems a pretty thin reward for the loss of someone we love. I would not trade for it, but I will take it. This may be a final gift bestowed upon the survivors and we are changed because of it.
Many things live in the eye of grief’s storm. Many are bad things, but not all. Friends and family live here. Stories of a life live here. And, hidden in the swirling, dusty wind and dark clouds, tomorrow lives here. Some weak thread of hope lives even in the most violent swells of despair, this hope is tomorrow. Today will end and tomorrow will come. This is hope. Hope that it will get just a little bit better. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t, but there is always tomorrow and maybe it could be the one.
Another “benefit” of death is the gathering of family and old friends; the fond remembrance of the days that were, smiles and belly laughs, bad puns and tasteless jokes. Food and wine and perhaps a little Mac cement the remaining relationships forever. A moment shared. We are reminded of the connections we have and of the people we love and that love us. This is a great reminder: People love us as much as we love them. We don’t give this much thought, but we should. As strongly as we love, we are loved by others. This is true and should not be overlooked. We matter very much to those that love us.
It is said that “friendship multiplies joy and divides grief.” I hope this is true, because Brian’s family has a lot of friends. Many people are suffering with them. This loss is a shared one, though a parent’s grief perhaps is without any measure of depth and may possibly be indivisible. I hope this is not true, but think it probably is. Nonetheless, I will pray and hope for some small salve to calm the burning sting and place a weak shroud on the vast hole left by this event. It is all I can do. I wish I could do more. We all do.
Tomorrow will come as it always does, but it is diminished by the passing of a wonderful guy. Brian will be loved and missed forever. The best people always are.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his new exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]