I wasn’t going to write about this today. I had other ideas and topics all but written. Something lighthearted or whimsical could have been easier. It could have been neater and tied together at the end with a little bow. It could have made more sense.
I didn’t start writing these for that reason, though. I began this site to be honest, open, and talk about the things that are running through my head as they come. Anything short of that feels dishonest. This is what is going through my head. I didn’t want to feel dishonest. I wanted to feel real. Honestly, I just wanted to feel something.
I’ve had an awful week.
In my life, there have only been three people who I have referred to as “best friend”. As of this month, all three have passed away. I’m 41. Patrick, the best man at my wedding, was 40. He died last week.
I don’t get why. I don’t understand the deeper meaning behind any of this. Even now, as I sit here putting my fingers to the keyboard, I’m not sure what, if any, grand conclusion I will come to by the end of this 1000-word dash. It’s like watching the universe rip chunks out of your life and there’s nothing you can do but stand there. His death doesn’t feel like part of some lesson to be wrapped into a clean package. It just feels unfair.
Patrick was my best friend during a time when I wasn’t my best self. When I was at my lowest point and felt the worst about who I was, he saw the best I had to offer. There were many days when he picked me up, both figuratively and literally. I’m not being dramatic when I say that I don’t know how I would have gotten through that tumultuous time in my life without him.
He lived far away though and soon Hofstra was over. He returned home and eventually that roadmap distance evolved into personal distance. There was no major falling out or big farewell fight. There was nothing. We lost touch and, unlike most stories of my lost friendships, the choice was not mine. There were a few too many unreturned messages on his part, and before long, my resentment caused me to stop trying too.
That’s the way it was for years. I tried reaching out on a few occasions, but with much less effort than I should have if I had been serious about regaining contact. I was still bitter over the way he had disappeared. It may not have been intentional on his part, but it happened. It hurt me, so I turned away.
The last time I called Patrick was in 2016 when yet another Fraternity brother of ours had died. I remember making that phone call and being proud of myself for being “the bigger man”. I even remember the final thing I left on his voicemail.
I love you and I miss you.
I did and I do. He didn’t call back. That was my final attempt.
So here I am, struggling with an emotional response to losing someone who I lost many years ago, but still rips out a part of my heart with his passing. I can’t lament over not getting to tell him how I felt about him. After all, I did. That was literally the last thing I did say to him. I’ll never know if he heard it or not, but I know I said it.
I’m not crying about the adventures we had left to live either. In fact, I had pretty much come to terms with the fact that our adventures were over. He was elsewhere, living his life, and I was too. Nothing felt undone. Our stories were plentiful. We made some great memories.
Right now, though, I don’t feel like telling funny stories about him or remembering how things were. It’s not that I expect to never talk about them again. I will, I’m sure. Now, though, I just don’t feel like it. It hurts to remember them. This goes against most of what I’ve felt about grief. Every death I’ve experienced has brought its own set of feelings. This one is the same in that it’s completely different.
My emotions come in waves and they reach across a wide spectrum. Overall, though, I feel empty. I feel exhausted. I feel nauseous. I’ve felt this way since the news was broken to me in a text that simply said, “Yo. Patrick Passed??”. I wish I could go back to myself a week ago and yell, “Call Patrick. He’s going to die, you idiot!” Who knows if I would have? It doesn’t matter anyway. Time travel doesn’t exist, and this entire situation is harshly routed in reality.
I’ve dealt with a lot of death in my life and each time, I’ve taken a lesson from it. It’s hard to find a lesson in this one. Sometimes, the only lesson is that life is hard, and no one is immune to dying. Just because you and your friends were invincible at 20, doesn’t mean you will be at 40. Honestly, you weren’t even invincible at 20. You were lucky.
I was lucky to have him in my life and I was lucky to have the opportunity to share those years with him. I’m not lucky to feel this way, though. Although I know that feeling of loss comes with finding special people in your life. Still, in times like this, you sometimes wonder if that tradeoff is really worth it.
It makes me feel uneasy because I don’t feel worthy when someone offers their condolences. He had family and current friends who have real holes in their present lives after his passing. I can’t compare in that respect at all, but it still hurts me deeply. I have a hole in my history. I have a hole in my heart. Even without returned phone calls, I always had a comfort in knowing that he was out there. Now I know he’s not.
One day, I won’t be either. When that day comes, I hope I will have people, even from afar, who say I touched their lives the way Patrick touched mine. If he is watching me somewhere, I hope I make him proud. Without him in my life then, I could never have evolved into the person I am now.