— FOR FRED —

I used to think I know how to grieve; I thought I had it all worked out. Of course, Life never allows us to have anything “worked out” so, sooner or later, it creates a situation to turn that idea upside down and tear it apart.

People die, we all know this. We know everyone dear to us will die some day, as will we. We know it to be so, we accept it… and then we still somehow ignore it. We make our plans as if we have all the time in the world. We dream big, thinking we have so much time to make it happen. We are waiting for something, an opportunity, a change of circumstances. Then we will do all those great things. Then we will grab our dreams. Then we will enjoy the ride.

And so Life, with a big smile, merciless hands and a kind heart of broad perspectives, takes a vital part of those dreams away; just snatches it unexpectedly and without pardon. The way forward suddenly becomes a painful lake of future memories you already built, and the way back simply disappears. A person you loved, someone you spent best years of dream-building with is suddenly gone.

Your mind tries to lie to you. It’s a cruel joke, it can’t be true.
Maybe there was some kind of mistake and he is the one in the hospital, and someone else actually died. Even the next days, the mind is unable to accept the harsh truth and tries to avoid it. You wake up and everything is normal for a couple of breaths, before it hits you – no, you will never get an answer to your last Whats’app message to him. No, you will not call him ten seconds after you find out you are about to make your first big movie, even though you have seen that image and heard his response at least a thousand times in your mind before. No, you will never get to repeat any of the amazing things you did together. No more mutual teasing, no more silly jokes, no more hand signs no one else understands.

No, he will never meet my future wife, or come visit me or be there on my wedding day. No, I will never wake up again and realize he ate all the food from my fridge and drank all my tomato juice. He will not be there to “corrupt” my children with french rap. I will never laugh at his pink shirts and fake gold Rolex, while he insults my (lack of) fashion sense. No, I will never again watch him devour a giant cup of chai in India, before I even get the chance to taste mine. We will never again be thrown out of a restaurant for eating too much from “all you can eat” buffet.

I will NEVER hear his voice again.

No more hugs or shoulder punches, no more fighting for a window seat on the flight to somewhere new. No more adventures together, only the memories of the ones we had.  Someone else might call me an introvert, but it will not be anyone as extrovert as him. Others will probably criticize my choice in shoes or clothes, but not in the same way and in the same, smile-inducing way. Even when you were bad, you were the best. Even when you were stressed and nervous, you were funny and silly. When we talked about our dreams and all the movies we will do together, we believed, without a doubt, that that is exactly where life way taking us. If you get an opportunity, you will call me. When my chance comes, I’m calling you. That was the plan, but most likely, we would have done it together, and gathered the old team back together as well, just like we talked about.

Only, no. We won’t.

You are gone, you have a new path now. You will probably still love french cheese and golden watches, but it will be a different, brand new life for you now, and my heart aches and swells with love for you and the void your death left behind.

This void that I feel now replaced all the future memories we were supposed to create together. It is a heavy, subtracting kind of void and my mind keeps trying to avoid it. It dances around it, giving me other things to think about and keeping me busy. But that is not a good way to deal with it, so I won’t let my mind make that decision for me, though I know it is only trying to protect me from more pain. But pain is not the enemy here.

I will face that void front on. I will stare into that abyss and acknowledge its pull fully. I will not shy away from all the monsters and dark thoughts staring back from it. There are hands and hooks hidden in that void, just waiting to pull me in and shackle me with heavy grief. There is a temptation to rest there, to hide from the world and challenges I know are coming.

But, I never feared Life and it’s tests and challenges, so I will fill the void eventually with all the dreams that were ours, keeping just enough pain to remind me to smile and appreciate Life.

That void, that pain – it is nothing but a silent, cruel reminder that every form must change, and that only our resistance to that change makes life difficult and death undesirable. Your death shook me and forced me to look into that void, made me accept that there is nothing real, nothing permanent, nothing untouchable; nothing that escapes the hands of Change. It is is a reminder that Life is precious and we waste too much of it on fear and uncertainty and waiting for that unknown something.

I will do my best not to wait anymore. I will honor the friendship we shared by filling up the void of your departure with new experiences, braving forward down the path we were sure to walk together. I know I will miss you and I know sorrow’s edge will stab my heart for a million brief moments in the future, but this is my own private burden now, and no one else will notice or know about it. I don’t know what people will think of an empty chair next to me on my movie premieres, or my second cup of chai left untouched. I don’t really care.

We had a blast, my friend. We had fun, lots of fun. We traveled, we lived, we created memories, more memories than some people will ever get to experience… I made you laugh a thousand times, and you made me laugh a thousand times, and that is all that matters.

Goodbye, my brother-from-another-mother… so long.

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