I’ve got no jokes today, kids. I’m more than a little heartbroken. And don’t panic – I’m fine (physically anyway) and so’s the parasite.
But this guy isn’t. Most of you probably won’t even remember him. After all, that post is from nearly two years ago.
That means two years of chemo and fear and pain and surgery and transplants and waiting and false hope and broken promises and hospital rooms and empty eyes and shattered hearts. And now he’s just…gone.
And I can’t quite explain why it upsets me so. I met him only that one time, but he’s haunted my thoughts nearly every day these past two years. Every time I was at Sloan for an exam or a scan, I’d consider taking a field trip up to the in-patient floors on the off-chance he might be there, that I could offer some kind of support. But I never actually did it. I’d get to that elevator, sometimes even get in it, and then I just couldn’t push the button, couldn’t face those long white hallways, couldn’t face the masks, the socks, the IV poles – any of it, really. And every times I slunk out of those automatic doors and back onto the busy streets of Manhattan, I’d assure myself he wasn’t there, that he was doing just fine, and that next time I’d find out if he was there before my appointment so maybe I could bring him something nice from the outside.
But I never did.
And now I never will.
I’m going to his memorial this evening. Well, I’m going to try and go to his memorial this evening. We’ll see if I have the will power to actually walk myself in there. It’s going to be hard to look at those kids. I feel like I lied. At the very least, I was complicit in the lie.
Everything is far from alright.
But I truly feel in my heart of hearts that being there is the right thing to do. Because there’s nothing else I can do for him at this point other than remember him. And really, in the end, I think that’s what we all want most – not to just disappear – not to be forgotten, at least not immediately.
I don’t even know his last name.
Yet I will never forget him. And hopefully someday, if I ever get this book published, people will read the chapter about him and he will fold a tiny piece of himself into their hearts and souls, too. And somehow he won’t disappear completely.
But today…right now…all I feel is the hole of him missing. And just like the hard lump of my scar tissue, it’s right over my heart. And I hope with all of that aching heart that this song was true for him.