I’m writing this on Saturday, the 29th… two days prior to my scheduled October 1st post, which is slightly out of my norm as I like to have my posts written and queued a week in advance to give me enough time for editing and living a life outside of this mind-numbing screen. I have been torn amongst myself over writing this post. It’s not the most enjoyable subject for me to discuss or to even think about on top of the fact that I don’t really know what to say… but I know I need to address the situation for myself and possibly for readers who have dealt or will inevitably deal with this aspect of life. I’m sorta winging this. I have an idea of a point I’d like to make as long as my emotions don’t take me too off-track. Shall we?
(To give you a better sense of my perspectives, I’ll be writing about my personal story as opposed to my usual adopt-an-approach to life perspectives…)
A very dear friend passed away in an accident on September 30th, 2011. At the time of my writing this, tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of his death. I knew him from 2004 until 2011… 18 to 26… 8 years. And of those 8 years we spent almost every waking (and sleeping) moment together while touring across the States and beyond in vans, buses, airplanes, cars, cabs, recording studios, houses, or hotels. When we weren’t touring, we were usually cooped-up in a practice space for 5 days a week and, as if that wasn’t enough, we (the band) hung out socially, too. My friend became an older brother to me – the kind of older brother that I have always wanted. I looked up to him, but he never made me feel small. I made mistakes, but he never made me feel stupid. I asked questions and he guided me while letting me still stand on my own two feet. I know that many others who called him a friend would stand by that observation.
The last time I saw my friend was July 28th, 2011 when I flew to my hometown of Philadelphia for a brief, one-night stay. I went to his place for a late-night shoot-the-shit amongst our friends. That night we got to talking about our current lives and I expressed some of my personal concerns (confusions, really). Sure enough, his reply was, “You’ll figure it out, J.” It’s not what I wanted to hear, but it was certainly what I needed to hear (even though I continued to look externally for the answers I sought).
I heard about his passing while I was 800 miles away, living in Atlanta. I woke up on October 1st, 2011 to a shaky-voiced voicemail and the return call was even more shaky on both of our parts. My heart absolutely sunk. It didn’t seem real (and still doesn’t). I say that not out of denial, but because I knew that he was still alive in some way. I flew home a few days later to attend the funeral, burial, and week-long grieving amongst friends and family. When I walked up to the casket I did not see my friend. I saw a body and there wasn’t any trace of the friend that I knew. He was one of the most animated, out-spoken, lively, and stick-it-in-your-face loving-life person I have ever known; completely full of life. That body in the casket wasn’t any of that.
A year has gone by now. I’ve had and continue to have my share of related emotions, questions, reflections, and conversations. I don’t think I’ll ever stop talking about him. I’ll never stop reminiscing. I’ll never stop remembering. I’ll never stop laughing. I’ll never stop thinking. And I’ll never stop talking to him. He’s still alive to me in my heart and in my mind, and in the hearts and minds of everyone that knew him. I don’t need to see him nor hear him to know that he’s still alive. He may not be with his body anymore, but that doesn’t make him any less real.
Life is so much more than living in a body. It’s about living. It’s about experiencing. It’s about not settling. It’s about loving and appreciating our existence. We are not our bodies. Our bodies are not us. My friend lived through his body and with his body, not in it. That is one of the most significant things I have been able to take away from this experience.
I’m sitting in Whole Foods fighting back tears as I’m writing this. I am sad because I know that I can never experience his physical being again. But I know that I can take one simple second any time that I wish and I’m right there with him… living, loving, experiencing, and smiling.
We are born into this world with a thought and leave as a memory.
Love ya, buddy.
EDIT Oct 7th – I wrote this blog without any thought that it would gain the attention that it did. I wrote it to get some things off of my mind and to try to put my feelings/my understandings into words. I woke up on the morning of October 1st with text messages and notifications out the wahzoo from people thanking me for my words. I re-read it and it was blatantly obvious that I was all over the place with my thoughts and I even had a few typo-’s. I thought, how could such an incoherent piece of writing make that much of an impact? Well, for starters my friend and his personality had the true impact, but I think the fact that I took the time out of my day to share my experiences of him, whether grammatically correct or not, hinted along the lines of a universal “yes.” It’s a taken perspective that not everything has to be perfect to be perfect.