Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

For Daniel

on November 13, 2013

Field of Flowers

I found out the other day that someone I know passed away.  I knew he had been having serious health problems for a couple of years, but I didn’t know he had gone back into the hospital, which is where he died.  I have never known how old he is, but I’m guessing not much more than ten years or so older than me.  Too young.

I know him because we did a play together some years ago.  I was the stage manager, he was an actor.  It was the only time we worked together, but as sometimes happens, a bond was forged that has endured.  We were not close; I never went to his house and he never came to mine, we didn’t speak on the phone or exchange birthday cards.  Sometimes a whole year would go by without meeting up.  I had been thinking the day before I heard the news that I was looking forward to spending time with him at a mutual friend’s annual Christmas party.  This was my only expectation of seeing him unless we ran into each other unexpectedly somewhere.  So I don’t suppose you could really describe him as a “friend” in the usual sense of the word.

But his death has knocked the breath out of me, as if I had lost someone very close.  The grief I feel would seem to be all out of proportion to the reality of my relationship with him, and in a way, I don’t feel entitled to this big grief.   Why should the news of this man’s death, a man I truly hardly knew, make me sob the way I have?  Why has my heart been so very heavy since I found out? 

I know that some of what I feel is the sadness of losing someone his age.  When anyone dies before their time I think there is an overwhelming sense of injustice – a life was unfinished.  He had dreams that will never be realized, love that will never been given or accepted.  When an elderly person dies we can say they lived a full life, but we can’t say that of our friend.  He didn’t get to finish, and that’s just wrong.

Some of it is the loss of this specific individual.  For the past several days his friends have been posting their remembrances of him on his Facebook page.  He touched so many people with his wit and kindness, and the tributes bear out the joy he brought to everyone who knew him.  His absence creates a vacuum in the universe of the lives of the people around him, a loss so intense you can almost touch it.  There is no one like him, and there never will be.

Of course, some of my grief is personal.   I did know him, and I did have a relationship with him, albeit a small one.  I will honestly miss him.  He had a way of looking at you with a twinkle in his eye that made you feel like you were the most important person on Earth to him, and at that moment you probably were.  The delight he took in your presence was genuine.  He was such a greathearted man, a gentle man, but full of boyish mischief.  I will miss his bear hugs terribly.  But even this doesn’t seem to be enough to explain the depth of my grief.

I started thinking about when I met him.  As I said, I was his stage manager.  There were only three actors in the cast so it was an intimate experience.  He and I hit it off immediately, and forever after he would introduce me as the best stage manager he’d ever worked with, which I knew couldn’t possibly be true but it sure made me feel loved.  We had that kind of love – the one that happens when you meet someone and right away feel as if you’ve known them forever.  It’s not the connection you have with your best friends who know you so well you can finish each other’s sentences.  It’s a shared moment, frozen in time, which lies dormant until you see each other.  Then it flames up, and all the affection comes back, fresh and new.  Our friendship happened in bursts; infrequent, but no less real.  I adored him, and knowing that I will never again see his face and feel the love warm the air between us devastates me.

So I’ve decided that grief is an individual thing, like the relationship itself.  It isn’t a pie for all of the deceased’s friends and family to fight over who gets the biggest piece.  Sometimes I feel like mourners are in competition with each other to see whose grief is the most justified; I certainly have behaved that way in the past.  But for the first time I’ve started to see grief, and most of all shared grief, as being for the living.  It is a part of life to mourn the passing of someone we love, and to do it together.  So my grief isn’t about my friend, it’s about me.  This isn’t selfish.  It’s an acknowledgement of the impact another person has had on my life.  My grief, even though it is personal, is also part of something larger, and that understanding has made it easier to bear.

***************

Thanks for reading my blog!  If you want to know more about me and my journey, check out my book “Everyday is Saturday” on Kindle.  The book is part diary, part memoir, about the first year after I was laid off from my dream job.  I think it has something to say to anyone who is struggling with change.

photo credit: Rusty Russ via photopin cc

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2 responses to “For Daniel

  1. Gayle says:

    Thank you.

    Like

  2. […] For Daniel (brooksedisblog.wordpress.com) […]

    Like

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