A Friend Of Mine Died The Other Day

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
–W.H. Auden
trees
U.S. National Archives

A friend of mine died the other day. He was the first friend I ever knew who died. I didn’t know him mega-well, but still, he was a friend. We lived in the same house once. He was a heroin addict, so, somewhat unsurprisingly, he overdosed. I don’t know where he was when he overdosed, or how it happened exactly. I didn’t want to ask. I was scared of hearing some horrible story, that he died under some train tracks in the inner-city, dinginess and crime and depression, and the screech of the elevated train above you, something like that. I say that it was “somewhat unsurprising” when he overdosed, but of course, I was completely surprised. Because how can you not be. How can you wake up and think, “Someone I know will die today.”

I don’t know what to say.

What can I say.

The awful part is that he died and then I immediately forgot about him, because I got distracted, and then I didn’t think about him for days and days. How awful people are. Then one night, after a party, I was lying on a couch in a girl’s house, and I thought about him. It must have been about seven in the morning. I couldn’t fall asleep. Stupid party. I’m too old for parties. At two in the morning, I remember being outside on the porch, smoking a cigarette, and talking to some gay dude, and I was saying: “It’s two A.M.? What am I, supposed to be twenty-three or something?”

Anyway.

But then I couldn’t fall asleep, and I thought about my friend. I was stoned and I loathe being stoned, and I apologize for even mentioning that I was stoned. In my head, I saw. In my head; I saw: a collection of what seemed like incandescent wires, circuitry, connected. But it looked more like a leaf, like the veins of a leaf, like what you get if you pick away all the leaf parts of a leaf and just have the tiny stems, which is a neurotic thing that I used to do as a child. I saw that what I was stupidly seeing was the inside of the human mind, which has those patterns, like a leaf, but bright, and electric, neurons and everything pulsing through it, transmitting thoughts.

It occurred to me then that my friend was dead and so the bright pattern of thoughts would be gone now. The leaf-thing, the veins, these would be dimmed and gone. I wouldn’t ever know what he thought about anything anymore. That’s what death is. I could never get his opinion on anything anymore, never even ask him even the most mundane thing, like what he thought of my shoes or something. His physical body would still exist for a while, in the ground, but I couldn’t access his thoughts. Like he was a model of a computer they don’t make anymore, and I didn’t have the right obscure floppy disk, and so I couldn’t get inside it, and then the dumbness of it all overwhelmed me and I started crying. TC mark

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