Someone once observed that one always remembers, even with a special affection, the neighborhood children one once played with.
That’s true, I think, but my youngest son drove it home earlier this week when he was discussing a contemporary who had passed away.
He’s taking it hard.
I asked how often he had seen his friend in recent years, since he lives and works in Reno, Nevada, and his friend, Mark Bustos, lived and worked in Alamosa.
He detailed a couple of times and I simply replied, “okay…” It was punctuated by a pregnant pause.
Bill hasn’t been great at handling death, even with elderly persons and people who have been seriously ill.
He’s good at caring, though, and I appreciate that. When something goes wrong, he tries to help fix it.
One can’t “fix” death. It’s an unpleasant fact of life.
In the recent past, he was unhappy that he hadn’t been informed immediately about the death of a childhood friend’s father. He agonized about the passing of an aunt and sympathized with her children, playmates of yore. They were never close.
He’s also good at sentiment.
Continuing the conversation, he asked me if I ever mourned a school chum or neighborhood playmate who had died. What about someone to whom I had been very close or even someone I knew through my work?
I said I did. I didn’t let it fragment my heart, but the tears came.
Having experienced many more losses, I have learned to deal with my innermost thoughts.
I asked him about his innermost thoughts and he talked about birth, life and death.
When his niece, Rebecca, died at age 20 months, he tried to be the family rock. “Lean on me,” he said.
Life and death are strange. Parents know approximately when a child will be born, but few people know when they, their own parents, children, relatives, siblings, acquaintances and even old friends will be leaving this mortal place.
We are forced by fate to go on, but with a feeling of emptiness.
Death leaves a void that can’t be filled. The “fixer” can’t change it but he – and all the rest of us – must continue.
My son summed it all up in just a few words: “I can’t handle knowing that Mark is no longer living here, on this planet, in this world.”
He is here, Rebecca is here, everyone we have ever loved is here, even though their mortal remains are gone. They will live forever in love and memory.