Thirty-seven years later

It didn’t hit you when you lost an old relative or a pet. It hit you when you lost someone your age. A good friend. Sixteen years old. Back when you still believed in Forever. When you finally understood that life was finite. Death transmuted from an amorphous concept into something so real it eviscerated your heart. When you realized Death could swoop in and boot you in the ass so hard you would never walk right again. When you realized Death took. It played no favorites and did not snatch only the elderly and twelve-year-old terriers. Death took the Young. Took Promise. Took the Future. Took without prejudice. Period, no comma. You woke up the next morning and learned he died, and you could not grasp the idea of it. Not at first. It took time to sink in, the fierceness of the loss, the unfairness of it. And you would never see him again. And when you came to realize it, you wept hard. You thought you were too old for that, so you hid away where no one could see you. And everyone left you alone because they didn’t know what to say. What could they say except I told you so? You wished you could go back in time just a handful of hours and how you could have changed all of it. How if you had been with him as usual, none of it would have happened. Because you had Luck, and it would have saved you both. Back then, you naively believed you possessed the power to avert Death, but you were a fool just like him.

You still feel guilty, because you weren’t there, and it was he who died, and you didn’t learn from it. Not right away. You made the same mistakes he made. Many times over. You got to Live. To Love. Because you had nothing but simple, cold luck. And you can’t let it go thirty-seven years later.


13 thoughts on “Thirty-seven years later

  1. I love your heartfelt writing. This particular essay relates so well to what a close friend has just experienced. Not about the guilt, or the sense of being able to change destiny. The feeling of loss, of death just smacking you down so unexpectedly is so perfect. We are no longer kids; we are in our 60s, but we still live and feel like we are young. When death snatches one of us in our innocent sleep, the shock is profound. Thanks for sharing such intimate feelings, and believe that you had that luck for some reason known only to the Universe.


  2. Thanks for sharing such a moving and personal post. Though I don’t know your friend, he/she probably wouldn’t want you to hold on to guilt for all of these years; the best way you can honor your friends memory is to live more honestly and love even more fiercely, so that you can live for you both.


  3. I don’t know how I missed this one, but I found it tonight. It is very moving. I know of what you speak, I felt that cold hand of death when I was only 12 and my cousin of the same age died. Then later, a good friend from my class in high school. I suppose the only solace in any of this, is that for those of us who have been lucky, we all share in this experience. The sense of loss, the guilt, and the uncomfortable realization that not only is life not fair, but that our time here is finite and only for a fleeting moment do we draw breath.

    Oh Look! A puppy!


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