It’s been brought to my attention via the all-knowing hub we call social media, that a number of people I used to know have died recently. Not at the same time though… that would be pretty sus.
I didn’t know them well enough to mourn.
I didn’t even know them well enough to be around to witness their lives, apart from what we shared in a classroom. I remembered their names, and even what they were changed to after the divorces forced them to choose between Daddy or Mommy’s last name. They mostly chose Daddy. He had the PlayStation, the sugar cereals, and let them stay up late, after all.
I predicted that their faces would’ve grown to look exactly how they ended up looking. I didn’t come to their birthday parties, though. Not my jam. Sorry toots, I hated sleeping on the floor cuz a year went by for you. Everyone’s basements smelled like brass. They gave me headaches. I always woke up terrified for the first couple of seconds, forgetting that I actually wasn’t sleeping comfortably in my own bed for the past eight hours. I never had dreams at sleepovers.
Some could call me a counterfeit friend.
Some would call them reckless motorcycle drivers with a lust for thrill. Early-Mothers with an opioid addiction. Boys shipped off to fight in a war they don’t truly believe in, shooting silhouettes they were taught to hate. Kids who played hide and seek in hard to reach places; their bodies lost, and donated to time, only to be found in ventilation ducts on a roof. A bit too good at hide and seek, Keith. A bit too good.
I would still call them good people,
each and every one.
People who didn’t always know better
People who weren’t always treated better.
They were probably nice to me.
I was probably nice to them.
I remember making some of them smile, even.
That’s enough to keep me alive.
It will never be enough for them,
or their lead-foot,
or their pill,
or their trigger.
The thing is, when I knew these people as a child, you never thought twice about the mortality of the freckly red-headed kid, who always brought Yogo’s and a cereal bar to school and wore track pants everyday (the kind that made a swishing sound with every step), or the cutie with a happy family life, strumming on a time relic’ed, secondhand guitar at recess, with a smile bigger than the campus.
You don’t have it in you.
You never looked at the chick playing four-square and thought, ‘you’re probably going to get knocked up at sixteen,
and die of an Oxy O.D. at twenty-one, with your brother left to fend for your child.’ At least I hope you don’t think that; Jesus Christ. How vile of you.
You never thought that one of your childhood sweethearts would be interrupted from strumming her lovesick-six-string, only to receive news that the body of her older brother was discovered cold and bruised, in the vent of a Micky-D’s, and then also have the gall wonder why she would never smile again.
You don’t imagine these things as a kid.
But as you grow older, and your life is plagued and saturated by the lack of life, and even the theft of life around you, it’s sometimes difficult not to look at everyone you know and love and think ‘You are all going to die.’ Better yet, ‘I’ll have to bury all of you, and that’s heavy on the heart, as well as the bank account’.
Might as well be a Goddamn sweetheart in the meantime.
At the very least you begin to find a solace in the fact that, ‘Yes, we are all going to die, fucking duh. You’re not special’. It’s hard to fear something so inevitable. Not much fun in that. You should probably get a hobby.
Pop a smile like a perky pill.
And be kind.
It’s what the dead died for.
Show them it wasn’t for nothing.