I’ve talked before — a bit — about the friends and family I have lost. About the friends, siblings, mentors and assorted others…
When I was young, my “list” of the lost dwarfed those of anyone of similar age. As I age, however, my peers catch up with me in that sad statistic.
Put simply, I have not lost more than my peers…I just lost folks sooner.
Now, I’ve mentioned before the fact that I write stuff in this blog — and in my stories — that I would never say face-to-face to even my closest friends or family. No one knew I fought depression until I started writing about it here. Just as no one knew that my entire world changed with the loss of my child.
So I’ll write about something else that no on knows…err, knew.
I’ve never visited a graveside.
Oh, I’ve been to services and memorials and celebrations — crap, I was (unintentionally) part of an Unknown Soldier service in freaking Budapest, of all places — but I’ve never intentionally visited the graveside of a friend or family member.
Remember that whole “photographic memory” thing we talked about?
Yeah, that comes into it. As does grief and weakness, guilt and shame. Look, let’s be honest — I’m alive. With everything I’ve done, I’m still alive. With everything I’ve fucked up…
With all of the danger and drugs and quests-for-escape…
With all of the depression and flirtations with suicide…
I’m still alive. I’m alive, and my friends and family — who had none of my failures and flaws — are not.
How do you stand next to the grave of a better person and, well, face them?
Now, that passage above was not what I set out to write. What I set out to write was a post that would grow, over 500 or 600 words, to illustrate the power of a song. A post that would provide a hint and a lead-in to a musical interlude that would explain far, far more to those who were willing to listen…and smart enough to hear.
That post has already failed. With what I’ve written above, I’ve got no way to ease into an anecdote that can lead into a song… With what I’ve written above, I’ve left myself no real room for subtlety.
Were this blog a novel, I would delete the scene and start over.
But this isn’t a novel, this is a blog. This is my blog, my seat at the bar.
This is stream-of-consciousness writing with little to no room for editing and revision.
So no subtlety here, no hinting. Below is the song that — no kidding — was playing on the radio as I drove from the funeral service to the graveside internment for my high school friend. Even after all these years, I can’t listen to this song without remembering…
Actually, I can’t listen to this song, period.
And I still haven’t visited Mike’s grave.