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When a Paragraph isn’t Enough

Posted by on May 9, 2011

I woke up this morning and read your obituary in the Bardian. It’s only a paragraph, but that’s all they had room for. I was on the plane coming back from your funeral when I was asked to send over my thoughts and add some sentences and anecdotes. When I found out that you had passed away I was in too much shock to form any words, in too much pain to understand emotion, in too much of a surreal, unknown, place to sum up anything about you. How do you break one person down to only a paragraph of words? We couldn’t. The obituary we sent in was more than a page. We wanted to also include one of your poems alongside the obit, but there wasn’t enough room.

Space. When I think about you and the space you occupied while you were alive a paragraph would’ve been too small for you. A paragraph would only be your introduction. How you would enter a room. A paragraph would be your first smile in the morning or your tired eyes in the evening. But your life – your life would be pages and pages worth of tales and adventure, of emotion and thought. It would last much longer than you would’ve thought possible. It would have flowed from one part of your life to the next. It would almost mimic the river that you loved so much. It would crash up against obstacles and then find its way around them to calmer waters. It would coast along and then speed up to the point where you’d have to take control and slow it down, yourself. The space you filled after you entered was no longer empty air – you liked to talk, a lot. But your words weren’t empty; the sentences you shared with the world weren’t meaningless. You had opinions, thoughts, fears, and dreams. Your cadence of words was similar to songs I would want to listen to over and over again. Songs that would get inside my head, make me dance, make me cry, make me feel.

It’s been almost 3 months since you’ve passed away and I’m still struggling in many ways, not to make sense of it because I can’t, but to capture the essence of you. To express how much you meant, not only to me, but to each person you came in contact with. You had staying power. Meet you once, and know you forever. When we met, we hugged and I fell in love with your voice, your smile, and your laugh. The second time we met, you kissed me on a stairwell in Tewksbery. The third time we met, you patted my head in the Paranoids. The fourth time we met, we talked for hours. It was after this that I knew you were someone who was going to, in some way, affect me forever.

My therapist says that this is going to take me a long time to work through – that loss is like waves in the ocean – swells of rebirth and creativity and crashes of pain and hurt. And as articulate as I want to be in these moments, filling more than a simple paragraph, all I can say to sum it all up is not even a complete sentence.  “This sucks”, “This really, really sucks”.

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