Feel free to skip this post, as it will be entirely depressing and grief-filled and unrelated to Ethiopia or adoption or my family.
…Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night…
Two weeks ago I was napping with Bo and dreamt of a person I knew ten years ago. An acquaintance, someone who I had not seen nor thought about in almost exactly a decade. In the dream, we expressed surprise at seeing one another again, just as we would have in real life. He told me, with twinkling eyes that acknowledged my surprise, that he had a son. I knew, even though it was a dream, that this was not right. From what I knew of him ten years ago, he was not someone who would delight in fatherhood. The dream was so startling that I woke up and quietly snuck downstairs to search for him on the internet. I couldn’t remember his last name, but between his uniquely-spelled first name and a few other details, I found him. But not on Facebook or myspace or any of those other places you look when seeking out someone from your past. Instead of stumbling across a profile listing favorite singers and tv shows and his current relationship status, I found his obituary, along with a virtual mortuary guestbook filled with grief-ridden messages from his mother. He died four years ago in a car accident.
The next day as I went to nap with Bo, I clutched him tightly and sobbed into his bony shoulders, haunted by the knowledge of the anguish experienced by the mother who loved and missed her son so much that she continued to write messages to him, begging for some sign that he was listening, watching, present. Frightened by my sudden display of grief, Bo asked what was wrong with me. He smiled cautiously as I told him that I was crying because I just loved him SO MUCH.
A week later, celebrating Mother’s Day with my family, my sister delivered the sobering news of a former classmate’s death. Of a heroin overdose. A guy who I knew from school, and parties; a former friend’s ex-boyfriend. I remember the day that we skipped school together with mutual friends and drove too fast on the highway, racing in separate cars at 120 miles an hour. He was someone that I didn’t keep in touch with but whom I fully expected to go out into the world, get a decent job, get married and have a couple of kids. He was in a relationship with another classmate, he had a solid job, but for some reason, was playing a dangerous game that he ultimately lost.
Fortunately, I am somewhat numb to these losses. I’ve been innoculated by the previous deaths of five other classmates and acquaintances. All boys, their souls yanked suddenly from this earth via motor vehicle accidents or drugs. The first time was hard- two friends at once, in the same accident. Confronted by death suddenly when the phone rang insistently at dawn, informing me that my belief that my friends and I would have many happy years together shattered. Friends die. Even when they’re young. I learned to accept that. I wearily heard the news time and time again, accepting reality more quickly and with less grief with each successive passing.
And yet this time I have been in a funk that I can’t seem to shake. Of all the people I know who passed away, the two that I wrote about were not particularly close to me. But their deaths do matter, so much, to those who were close to them. They left behind mothers and girlfriends and siblings and relatives. None of these boys or men fought hard enough to prevent the grief they have dealt their families and loved ones. They lived reckless lives and their families suffer. And yet I cannot be angry with them. They’re dead. I’ll never see them again, even if I wanted to.