A man’s dying is more the survivors’ affair than his own.
He was the first person I ever met in college. Met him outside of the dorms queuing for one thing or another. He was from Virginia.
Never met an Asian kid from Virginia before. At that point, I’d never really been out of the City. Don’t think I’d even been to the Bronx or Staten Island yet.
We became pretty good friends through the years. Bombed my econ class because a group of us were playing cards late into the night.
Ended up going to the same law school, just at different times. We also ended up living in the same neighborhood so we constantly either met up or ran into each other.
But in 2001 we had an argument and stopped talking. It wasn’t a terrible argument, per se. Just the kind where both people’re irritated enough to stop talking for a while.
Your typical super-important argument about nuthin.
We met up a few years later at a wedding where I was a groomsman and he was the best men.
Me: Hey, your tie’s crooked. (fixing it)
Him: Ah, thanks. I was worried it’d be weird between us.
We sat at the same table, and were pleasant. We said we’d reconnect again but never got around to it.
That’s the thing with old ghosts; you always run into them in the big City. Figured I’d just run into him again one day, like I do the rest of the world. And we’d be cool again.
But I never did. Now, I never will.
Every time someone dies, I think of that Thomas Mann quote, A man’s dying is more the survivors’ affair than his own.
Right now, I’m on an email list filled with names I’ve not seen in years.
Some people are heading down to the funeral, some are sending flowers. My friends and I are sending an arrangement.
Can’t really imagine what his parents are going through. Don’t want to. When I heard he died, after the initial shock wore off, I thought of my own parents. I’d never want them to have to go through that.
What a thing to bear.
I wish I did actually give him a call. Or he gave me one. Or we did run into each other like people do here.
Life gets in the way. That is, until it gets out of the way.
I’ll add my not meeting up with him to my list of ten thousand regrets.
Goodbye, man. I’m so sorry to hear that you left us.
Me: Why would it be weird? We had an argument. People have arguments. We should meet up some time.
Him: Sure, that sounds good.
Location: in my head, back in college
Music: Yesterday I got so old, it made me want to cry
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