How to Remember

October 19, 2010

A few weeks ago someone I once loved very much killed himself. He was a complex, beautiful, maddening, difficult person. We had mostly lost touch over the years, short of a little facebook contact, but I was still deeply sad about his life and death.

I struggled with what to do. Write a letter to his family telling them how much he meant to me? Probably not welcomed by the wife from the ex-girlfriend. As if anything I could say could possibly touch the chaos and confusion in the wake of such a death.

It is, in the end, so much about us – me – in the face of someone else’s loss, right? Like what does it matter to him or his hurting family how much I loved him? How much I understood of him, if, indeed, I did understand anything of him? In a way, wanting to do something at all is about me. How to live with the loss which feels intense. When I love, I don’t do it lightly. Perhaps a little less gravity in my love would be a good thing both for me and for those whom I love.

I thought of writing something thoughtful and profound on the memories part of the funeral website. I hoped to somehow capture how important he was too me and how amazing I thought he was in his own strange way. In a little gesture, to honor my memory of him. But I couldn’t bring myself to put it out there mostly because all of the other notes were empty and like syrupy bad Hallmark cards that said nothing about who he was and my post would have been weird and out of place if not just a little creepy.

I wasn’t able to go home to Ohio for the funeral because I was in the midst of my doctoral exams. But perhaps it was better because I know the funeral would have been eerily silent about the fact that he took his own life, alone in his barn, on a Sunday afternoon.

It would have been silent about his broken body.

It would have been silent about the hurt he caused those whom he loved and who loved him. He was a pretty selfish guy, to be honest. But charming and beautiful and funny and addictive. You can’t really say that at a funeral.

It would have been silent about his mystery and his brilliance and his hurt that was with him when I knew him quite some years ago and, apparently, remained in one form or another.

There would have been no way to remember his magic in this world along with and inextricable from his madness.

It makes me all itchy inside to think about the platitudes and careless use of religiosity that often, I suppose, feels like the only recourse at a difficult funeral where we are not to speak ill of the dead and in the process fail to remember them in all their humanity and fullness.

And so it goes.

This is my small way of remembering him.

I loved you so much, dear Levi and pray with all that I am that you find, in death – in absence – what you did not find in your short life.