I suck at silence. Can't be it and I can't live with it. Which is why I always listen to my iPod while doing dishes. And I find music to be wonderful, but I need to hear a human voice. A thought. A story. Another life connected to mine (even if they can't see the connection because of the distance). So I put on Peter Kreeft discussing C.S. Lewis's book "A Grief Observed." I'm usually too lazy to read so I let Kreeft summarize and I say "Someday I'll read that."
A grief observed is about Lewis's journal he kept while coping with the death of his wife. So I immediately go to a place of my most immediate grief. Nate. I find this grief to be odd, but comforting to my concerns about the soul. By my calculations, Nate and I hadn't spoken for months. Quite possibly two years. And yet....I was stunned. Dumbfounded. How was I still standing up? Perhaps I should have sat down. And I realize a few things from one sentence that Lewis said of his wife that I shall adapt to be about Nate.
"His absence spread out like the sky."
That's a pain I understand very well now. I think maybe I thought I did, but whether or not I did....I do now. I think I keep expecting to wake up one day and be free of grief for Nate. That's impossible. I might as well say "Tomorrow I'm going to stand up, but I don't think I'll use my legs." His absence is spread out like the sky because no matter which direction I look...his absence is present. And very final. Untakebackable. Never again will I hear goofy laughs like his (except in my dreams), see toughness like his or even hear bass lines like his. Even if they're identical to Nate's bass lines...that music won't carry Nate's soul. His very essence hanging on every note like a cartoon character dangling from an umbrella floating down from an airplane. So very very final.
This finality of Nate's death (I hate even typing that) shows me another finality. No matter how old I get or where I travel or who I meet I will always miss Nate. Always. And while there will be days when I forget that I am in pain....there will be days when I will feel the sting as if my sister had just called me. As if the funeral director just told me we could go and see him. As if I had just entered the church on that incredibly rainy day. That's very final too.
I think that this must be a picture of ugliness because I have but one thought to counter it. Since I view it as the converse, the mop to this grime, I think it must be beautiful and missing Nate for the rest of my life must be ugly.
I know that a great amount of time had passed since last we met and yet I felt the absence. It stings and burns and twists and contorts. But this shows me a beauty. Somewhere back in our lives. Amongst discussions of Oi! music, amongst discussions of playing bass, talking about the Simpsons, girls, working for Honda, beer and so many other countless things....there was a deep mystical connection. One unseen. One unknown. And as it was unknown to me I suspect it was also unknown to Nate. Somewhere in that bizarre suburb of Alpharetta, GA I got a small piece of Nate's soul in exchange for a small piece of my own. That's why it stings. Because that small piece of my soul that he had in him is now gone. Gone with him on his next bike ride up the great mountain of infinity. And I have two comforts to take from this.
First, I take comfort in knowing that I have a small piece of Nate. I carry it around with me. For the rest of my life. Nate is always with me. He must be because I am always with him. I can't tell you much but I very much sense the absence of a fraction of my soul. Ergo, the presence of a fraction of his.
Secondly, it gives me something new to love. Having this knowledge that Nate's death gives me I can improve life. I now know that I am connected to every living person I bond with in some way. That my soul is not a spool of cloth, but a patchwork quilt. And who wouldn't prefer a patchwork quilt to a spool of cloth. I carry all my loved ones with me. Including the ones I've lost...
There they are. And I'm with them as well. Beautiful. A chain that not even death can break.
And this is the miracle. That we can battle a pain as big and as empty as the sky itself with something as simple as a patchwork quilt.
To this insane thought I can only offer two words as a description.