When we get together with old friends, we travel through time. Our middle aged bodies may be planted in our chairs, but our hearts and minds flow easily between the recent and distant past. We move through the old neighborhoods, jumping from year to year with ease. We are together in our memories just as we were on the actual days.
For a time, we are young again, carefree again. We are skipping, riding bikes, dancing again. We are once again risk takers, together in precarious and dangerous situations; pranksters, playing outrageous jokes on each other; confidantes, whispering our deepest darkest secrets; dreamers, sharing our hopes and schemes.
The last time I saw Joel, a bunch of years ago, it was just like that. We were immediately 16 again. Telling tales, reliving moments, questioning our judgment, and laughing too loudly.
When I read on Facebook that Joel had died, my very first instinct was to call Brian. But Brian died 40 days ago. So he wasn’t there to call. And now, the stories that he and I shared that had Joel in them, are only mine. Our shared history, is gone. It’s only in my head now.
Perhaps the hardest part, for me, of losing Brian, was that when he died, his memory died along with him. His memories are all gone. And I was in so many of them. Half of our common experiences are gone forever.
2020 has been a year of great loss for so many of us. Another friend wrote ‘Little parts of my childhood have gone missing over and over this year.’ She said what I’ve been feeling. With Joel’s passing, with the passing of his memories, a chunk of my teenage years has gone missing. With Brian’s passing, a huge chunk of shared history has gone missing. Chunks of me. Missing.
Slowly, bit by bit, my fellow time travelers are disappearing.
Everyone I knew in the past will die. The keepers of my stories, and holders of my secrets will pass on. Some day, I may end up like my father-in-law Charlie was at 98. A man with a head full of memories that no one else shared. Memories that he packed up and took with him when he traveled on in April.
And if my life is over sooner, I will travel on with my suitcase half full of other people’s memories.
A little piece of my teenage years went missing yesterday when I read about Joel’s passing. Giant pieces of my life have gone missing in the past few months. Some day, I will go missing too.
Godspeed, brothers. ❤️