I write them down immediately, planning to use them in a review I’m working on for please like me, this little Australian show that delighted me and then broke my heart a few weeks ago.
But it becomes something else a few hours later, when I open the scrolling stream of noise that is Facebook, to seek out a friend I haven’t checked in with for too long.
The thing is, you don’t notice the silences anymore.
My friend’s most recent post is a year old. It is moody and cryptic – always his style – and for a moment I think perhaps he’s in one of those abstaining-from-social-media moods.
It’s not until I see 50+ comments that dread creeps in on me.
a clusterfuck of sorrow.
Ben is gone.
Not wandered off, but dead.
Ben is dead and I didn’t know for a whole goddamn year.
You don’t notice the silences anymore because they’re crowded out by everyotherfuckingthing.
In the decade I knew him, I visited Ben just once – lunch at a brewpub in his beloved hometown – but we talked sometimes, late at night, while Fat Lola and I walked the cliffs over Capitola Village. There was an intimacy to our friendship, drawn as we both were to the shadows, and tangled up in personal mythologies we built without escape hatches.
He was a man who struggled to see the beauty in this world, but see it, he did, and spreading cheer became some kind of mission. When the basset hounds Roscoe & Rufus came into Ben’s life, something beautiful blossomed in him. It was a brilliant love story – that man and his hounds. But love necessarily opens us up for pain, and the loss of both his boys in too short a time was heartbreaking. I worried more for him after that. We all did, I think.
In the last few years, I thought of Ben often and fondly but those thoughts rarely translated into action. I didn’t maintain that connection like I intended to. Ben made his exit on his 52nd birthday in early 2016. There is no condolence to be given at this late date, save the awkward apologies.
a clusterfuck indeed
I was lucky to have known him.