‘Tis a fearful thing
to love what death can touch.
A fearful thing
to love, to hope, to dream, to be –
And oh, to lose.
A thing for fools, this,
And a holy thing,
a holy thing
For your life has lived in me,
your laugh once lifted me,
your word was gift to me.
To remember this brings painful joy.
‘Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing, to love
what death has touched.
― Yehuda HaLevi
Sometimes, you start out to write about someone and soon realize you are writing about yourself. A great writer once wrote in a letter to a friend whose young son had unexpectedly passed away, “The golden bowl has broken, but it was golden.” I have always understood that as the value of what once was doesn’t ever diminish, even if the time with it has ended.
A friend of mine recently killed himself.
Our paths crossed at a time before I knew I was deserving of being loved.
Our physical paths crossed a lot earlier than that, we grew up less than a mile from each, attended the same schools at different times, and traveled the same roads. A few years age difference made it so we didn’t meet then.
We met in Seattle, we had a lot of mutual friends. Our paths started to cross multiple times a week.
I moved, he moved, we kept in touch and friendly, both recognizing the bowl was at one time golden and whole and beautiful.
Our last conversation six months ago wasn’t great. I felt he was stuck, full of excuses, and not living up to his potential. He thought I was blaming him. My attempt at a pep talk, getting him to recognize and remember his potential was received as though I was accusing him of squandering his talents.
When we met 24 years ago, I was a fragile, depressed, self-loathing boy that saw himself possessing no worth. Being told contrary to that was met with dismissal and I assumed that the person conveying that perspective clearly did not know the whole story. It took a long time and a lot of work before I could even see that perspective as valid, let alone start to believe it myself. It took a lot of work to undo the destructive thought patterns that were keeping me in that self-loathing rut.
It was a handful of people like him that dismissed my angsty self-deprecating comments and continued to remind me of the extraordinary human that was inside me. His influence is evident in the man who I am today and the man who I strive to become. And becoming that man is even more important now. All I can do is honor his influence and that of my other fallen brothers.
Rest now, Mikey.