I lost my keys this morning and I know this is about as significant as the outfit you change out of before putting on just the right dress for a grand occasion, but this loss, like most others, was just another reminder that I’m human.
A reminder that all the effort in the world will make no difference if something, or someone, does not want to be found.
My keys — well, they were right where I swore repeatedly they couldn’t possibly be, thus confirming my suspicion that our best lies aren’t wasted on others. We’re selfish because we’re human and we can manipulate every last one of this planet’s inhabitants, but the greatest lies are those so convincing that we accept them as truths. Because the likelihood of my keys being in the living room was only slim to none the moment I made it so.
Still, I get enjoyment out of hide-and-seek when it comes to material possessions. I lose things it seems I never had, and other times I find things I hadn’t even realized were lost. Things are just things, though. It doesn’t get much more poetic than that. The accumulation of things creates seemingly infinite possibilities for loss. So what then? What happens when the freak accident that leaves a house entirely engulfed in flames isn’t just another headline in the morning paper you really only retrieved in hopes of finding coupons? What happens when this is your life? Add in the unlikelihood that you have homeowner’s insurance and that’s only the beginning.
This is what is feels like to lose another person.
In death, we find that we are finally willing to give up all of the material possessions we suddenly have no use for. These things, trinkets and vintage sunglasses we refuse to so much as put on our faces for fear they will be ruined. Fear they will lose their monetary value. But net worth goes right out the window when you lose somebody you care about, and your only hope is that the value of these materials would be enough collateral to bargain with your gods.
Even though we know this isn’t possible, I don’t know a single person who hasn’t tried. What is one more attempt after the fact, right? Anyway, I read this book once. Mitch Albom wrote it, so you can assume it’s a pretty tear-jerking read, but that’s not why I mention it. There is already enough sadness so closely associated with loss that I won’t suggest you read this one with your book club, unless you’re wearing waterproof mascara. He wrote, “You can go your whole life collecting days, and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back,” a line that changed my whole life entirely.
I lost my father three years ago, and because I hadn’t seen him in so long, I flipped through the few photos we had in an attempt to dwell on what ifs and if only I had gotten the chance to say a well thought out goodbye. I had a hard time, only because no combination of syllables and word choice could bring him back, and I knew that because my glass has never been half full or empty, it’s always just been. I thought to myself, life’s a pretty hard thing to survive, but illness isn’t reserved exclusively for good or bad people, the strong and weak are often plagued by the same conditions. It’s really just like one of those math problems where the answer you get can only be trusted with an uncertain level of accuracy. You can’t win ‘em all, I suppose, and it was my father who taught me that.
Today was very different.
Not like all the other times.
I lost a friend today.
Those five words in particular aren’t poignant by any means,
I’ve lost count of those I’ve lost over the years, but this isn’t my first rodeo.
I did not write this for me though.
This has nothing to do with me or how I feel,
Because one less boy walks this earth today,
And it was his choice.
No, this isn’t like the other missed opportunities for goodbyes,
Because for the first time, something occurred to me:
Suicide isn’t reserved for selfish monsters.
To be fair, I know more selfish monsters breathing than in funeral homes.
Though you are not strong or weak in possessing the ability to take your own life. The honest admittance that this life has consumed you entirely, to a point where to go on would simply be too painful an act suggests a sense of longing for purity, for a clean slate you didn’t believe you would receive during your time on earth. It’s sad that we so closely associate suicide with selfishness and an inability to place the needs of others before one’s own in making that decision. My friend, he wasn’t just some boy who walked this earth aimlessly searching for a purpose he couldn’t find. I wish I knew what is was that he was searching for, but these are the kind of times where I will collect all my days hoping to trade them for a single minute of his time.
I don’t feel compelled to illustrate or convince, because it will do him no justice. A beautiful soul could not possibly be condensed into even the most eloquent of sentences. A smile that knows no bounds and a heart filled solely with pure intent, those kinds of things don’t just fit neatly into words the English language offers.
Today, I lost my keys, but that’s really not what matters.
Another person, who was just like you and just like me,
As seemingly similar as the quietest kid in the back of your classroom,
Yet able to just as easily relate to the most outspoken voice commanding a room,
He made the choice to stop breathing in our polluted air, to end a pain we choose not to understand because we don’t consider it to be normal.
It is a sad, human attempt at grappling with death, but I’d trade all of my material possessions for the chance to say only that I understand, and you are loved.
Because goodbye suggests we will never meet again, and I’m far too optimistic to accept that.