A friend from my faraway life passed away this month. We weren’t close any longer. Years ago, I made the choice to retreat into my silent abyss and when I exited it, I made the choice to shake away the fear of life’s impermanence. I fled then like cowards do, one warm evening while the city lights sparkled coolly, and things seemed darkest in my resentful life.
When the splendid things vanish in the lives of the most impatient of men some of them come searching for just a trace of the everlasting. My rooting was planted nowhere and in that silent evening I left, disappearing from my old world, and walked into a new one. His recent death asked me to stop wrestling with distances. It was something I did so well in order to prevent myself from returning home.
Our youth brought with it serious oath making even as we bargained for more time that didn’t belong to us. We had few cares and couldn’t explain the reckless decisions we made. We felt we’d live forever and believed we owned the license on the word invincible.
Yet when men die, we feel sick in our stomachs and weep like children. We wave our fist in the air at our powerlessness. We lose the men we love and the men we respect. He didn’t serve in the military but was a worthy opponent nevertheless. We styled ourselves as heroes. He stood his ground while others parted from the scene of havoc, we drowned weaker men in.
And now he’s gone…How should I remember him? As the ragged-headed teen who marveled at the deliciousness of life or as a feeble-bodied man who knew he was dying? Good health fled from him but I know his spirit didn’t flag. We sprinkle the sea with the ashes of heroes. I departed that small world because I felt there was nothing left for me. Little did I know how my foray into the military would imbue me with some important life lessons.
One day we must stop wrestling with distance.