What do you write about when someone you truly loved dies?
Should you write anything at all?
Do you write about grief? About how experiencing it changes the more you do it and with age? About how, at least for me, it goes from an uninterrupted frustrated inconsolable sadness, stuttering in air between snot and tears and sobs; to more of a pallet of emotions and ideas? A battle over whether the things you’re thinking are appropriate. Whether you’re sad enough. Whether you’re a sociopath for *not* being sad enough. Whether you’re a selfish asshole for thinking that *you’ve* been robbed of future company, forgetting the afflicted has been robbed of future anything, implicitly dismissing those who based their lives on Aaron’s, as opposed to simply riding along side him like I did. Frustrated with yourself for not being able to recall, on demand, all the memories you’ve made with the person, instead having to wait for the muse to torturously make all too infrequent offers. Guilty after any relieving moment of disconnect, distraction, or worst of all pleasure. And yes, completely stop-what-you’re doing overwhelmed; half the time just staring into space, stuck in a purgatory of thought; the other half of the time, swollen and knotted with horrible sadness and anger and pity for those who you know are suffering more than you.
That’s what I’m going through right now.
What’s even more stupid is I’d never talk like this with Aaron. Aaron was someone I didn’t have to or want to get deep or wordy with. We’d endlessly bullshit, because we loved most of the same stuff and went after it the same way. There was less talking about it, more doing it. That’s what we shared. No pretense, never a need to impress or (really) put down. Just planning for the next thing, following through with the current one, or busting balls in between. Reader, don’t think that meant our friendship was shallow. The connection we had through shared passion and execution is without a doubt more intense than most of the others I’ve had.
Aaron was pure and immediate.
Tell me how timing works on a four stroke engine. Boom. Forty five minute conversation. No problem.
Tell me how spray paint works… “Well there’s two different kinds, really. One has alcohol in it to make it dry faster as it evaporates, you know? The other…” (Thanks to Elliott for reminding me of this one.)
Aaron, should I hit this jump? “You won’t!”
Aaron, hit this jump. “Ok”, in his doofy voice.
It’s common to exaggerate in eulogy, but I mean every word of it when I say: Aaron was undeniably a part of my inner circle and past the point of dismissal. The only thing that could’ve ended our friendship did, and so here we are…
He was my freshman roommate, he was my brother, and he was a partner in so many things.
Ski trips, shared meals, conversations about trivia I didn’t want to hear about (but really did) and mountains we both wanted to visit, countless trips: my first time in Canada, driving over the border for some 18-year-old indulgence; my first real music festival, driving down to Tennessee in 2011; my first time skiing out west in Utah; driving that stupidly big rental van up to fields of wild Bison in Colorado, stoned on gummy bears, and then trying to park it in a garage with less than six inches of clearance; riding snowmobiles through 50 miles of Wyoming wilderness; camping at my dad’s place in the Catskills; hiking Giant Mountain in the Adirondacks. The list goes on.
Then there’s the details.
I miss his stupid cars, racing his Subaru against other idiots on the highway, blowing flames out the exhaust, and him teaching me how to drive it. Scaring people in tunnels with his waste-gate, including that one time an off duty cop chewed us out as Aaron nodded and said, “Yes Sir” a dozen times across my lap through the passenger side window. Driving his big banged-up black truck through running rivers, water up past the doors.
I miss the way he never understood sarcasm, until one day where he finally did and thought it was hilarious to defy your expectations and fake you out with a feigned opinion on something.
I miss always asking him how his dog Ted was. “Good. Gettin’ old.” He never rolled his eyes at me, as if he never heard me ask the question or gave me the same answer 100x before.
Everything and everyone was authentic to him, and he reacted as such. In turn it made him the realest person who I knew and whose company I enjoyed. Sometimes you get one or the other. Aaron was the rare exception of both. He never schemed, he was never fake, he loved to live, and we did a lot of that living together.
There’s no way to solve this problem. I’ve got to live with a hole in my heart from this day forward.
There’s a diminished sweetness to things. A note I can’t hear anymore.
I’ve lost a best friend. I’m so glad to have known him.