“It’s all we have sometimes. And it ain’t much” — Chris Coffey, On Memories
On January 25th, 2016, in an Upper East Side apartment an old friend sat to dinner with his parents, whose return from Florida he’d awaited, amid the same whimsy and circumstance that had dictated 30 odd years of his life. He said goodnight, and gave hugs and love-in-spades to each, and then a short time later jumped out a window to his death.
He was one of the funniest men I ever knew, and he was widely loved for it.
I don’t remember much more than the laughter. I never kept his jokes, and I can’t tell you how many times we talked about girls, or went out for drinks at bars that allowed underage kids to booze themselves deep into stupidity. I knew him for years, liked him, and didn’t know him at all.
And now the memories that we have, with no way to store, replace, or truly recount them, are all we have left. In fact, we can share them only in shallow stories, and barely connect the essence and nature of what made this man great.
He was the best friend of my best friends, several of them, and that made us something more than acquaintances, friends by default. And in all our interactions that stretch across more than a decade of this odd friendship, I can’t give you one great story with illicit detail (except for an amazing company he tried to start, this one time at 9B when we were kids, and the last time we saw each other), for he exists in the outer orbits of my memory, a constant of humor, the guy next door, the kid from where I grew up. It didn’t seem important enough to catalog, and now that it has become so rare, I regret it deeply in the hollow void only “never, ever, again” can create.
This is the fault and the failure of our memories in a world where we create and collect more media than we could ever possibly consume. It’s as if we were almost better off in a world less connected through this technology, whereas now we wish we could download and share each of these memories in our brains, and compare how amazingly different our perspectives would be.
Now, between the missing, the anger, and the terrible sadness, I find myself sorting through memories likes sea-glass in sand. And the abject terror I have is that I have not made enough of the ones I love, I have not called every single person in my life and told them I love them.
For memories are the shadows of love and time, and we do not seem to ever have enough as we use time as kindling more readily that the scrap book pages it so easily can be.
And amid this fear the most haunting thought is not why, but how did we miss it. And who might we miss next?
I’m not telling you that we are all connected, because we are, and in truth we are not. We did not know his pain. We can try to stay connected. Imagine for a moment what it is like to lose someone, then take that energy and channel it into those you love. Choose to take the time to give that love. Now. Right fucking now. Stop reading.
For the moment that fades to memory is not enough. Memories themselves are not enough.
So I will not hate you. Any of you. I will love all of your foibles and flaws, and I’ll forgive the missteps. If we create together, if we spend time together, if we connect in any meaningful way, I will honor you.
And I’ll pray that love takes the place of memory, and in some world, some way, makes us all immortal.
You were loved, Will, and you were, are, and will be missed.