(This is one of my darker blog posts but hang in there. I think it’s worth it.)
Two weeks ago I found out my friend Isaac was dead.
And I didn’t see it coming. Nobody expected it because it was a random accident that could happen to anyone at anytime. I still don’t know much beyond the fact that he was skateboarding in Portland and then…then he was in a hospital and he didn’t wake up.
Now you see him…now you don’t.
And when I was told via Facebook and clicked on his page and saw all those rest in peace messages, I didn’t believe it. I just stared at the screen and thought, wow, what a completely un-funny joke.
Then I figured out it wasn’t a joke at all.
I didn’t know Isaac very long but he was an incredible human being. He tutored me every week for my Perspectives in Mathematics class last year. Well, that’s not entirely true. He had certain hours at the Math Skill Center and I memorized them because I knew Isaac would make even the most daunting of my assignments fun. Since I got an A- in the course, I can say with some confidence that Isaac worked miracles.
I think we became friends that first day when we played checkers on a torus. I oh-so-charmingly tried to psych him out and kept insisting that I was messing with his head.
Then I informed the professor that I was “kicking the T.A.’s ass!”
I miss Isaac.
I didn’t see him on a regular basis but I found it comforting to know that he was around. He was one of the good guys that redeemed his gender on the rare occasions when I felt bitter and cynical. So when I discovered my lovable safety net had been cut down, I didn’t know how to handle it.
Denial soon became a good friend of mine…until I moved into grief. Crying helped but it wasn’t enough. I needed a way to avoid the pain. That’s when I immersed myself in romance novels. Dozens of them.
Note to self: romance novels can’t actually raise the dead.
I’m doing better now, partly because I went to see one of the therapists on campus. I’m trying to be grateful that beyond the death of my grandpa this is the first loss I’ve ever experienced firsthand. What has helped me the most is my firm belief that Isaac now has the answers to all his questions about the universe. I keep repeating that to myself. And I think I’m handling the loss.
But it’s hard to get excited about my birthday when I know that his funeral will be the very next day.
I guess in a seriously messed up way, it’s a nice reminder that life and death are intimately connected. You know, if by “nice” I meant “terrifying, horrible, rip-your-heart-out nightmare” instead.
Still, I think it is important to live each day to the fullest.
So I’m trying to write again: something I’ve been struggling to do since he died. And I’m doing my very best to appreciate this extraordinary, precious, fragile existence of mine to the fullest extent.
I have a feeling Isaac would approve.