The Lost Ones
I never think about it anymore. Really. I don’t. That ache deep in my belly has gone vague. The fire that boiled over from my eyes that August day in 1985 is merely turned ash. Grey, fluffly ash that wipes away with the flick of a finger. I never think about it anymore, the morning in the catholic church where so many stood and kneeled, and stood and kneeled in the centuries-old rituals of “Good bye, forever.” “Peace be with you.” I never think about Kathryn anymore. Really, I don’t. Except that I always do.
My brand new shiny Blackberry phone twittered at me this afternoon. I’ll say this for it, my social life looks more like a social life these days. I realize that is not the “fault” of the phone, but the addition of the BB and the appearance of an apparent social life happened remarkably close together. There are hazards to having a social life, however. Like that your BB twitters at you in the middle of your nap. Like that the news on the other side of that black screen could be, well, anything at all.
Not terribly different, I suppose from ripping the news from the old style news wires at a radio station. I wonder what the wires from AP and Reuters and the other news services look like these days. I never think about the summer day that I ripped the news and went into the sound booth to do the local and national news. There I was, semi-sweltering in the old building (it smelled like 1950 and Leave it to Beaver to my 17-year-old nose) full of huge old broadcasting equipment, ratty turntables and a microphone straight out of the Dick Clark show. We still spun vinyl in those days, and still read the news straight off the paper wire feed. That’s how I found out that my best friend was dead. I never think about reading the news that day. I never think about turning off the mike and walking out of the building to where the goats grazed out back beside the broadcast antenna to scream, either.
That was before social media, cell phones and other neat stuff made such news so readily available that you almost don’t need newscasters anymore. Not for stuff like the local weather report. Not for stuff that whips like a rattler’s tail through the ether. Stuff like Tamara dying in a car vs. house incident last night.
I thought, once, long ago, when I was another person, that such things would get easier. Death is a part of life, after all. We will all die. We all hope it will be when we are old, useless, used up with a gazillion experiences and joys to comfort us as we fade out. I never thought it would get harder. I never thought that every picture I had stored away of a moment in a writing conference, in-class discussion, passing in the hall would rise up before me as if the moment were happening again. And when Karla pinged me that she assumed I had already heard the news, I tried to delay the inevitable by pinging back, “That Andy Rooney died last night? Yeah. //crying smiley//” I knew the news would be bad. I read Karla’s next ping anyway.
I thought of Alfredo and his bikes; I never think about talking to him about biking, or about admiring his passion; wishing I felt that way about biking, the way I feel about writing. Gone in a flash. I thought of Chuy, funny, silly, happy, twisty Chuy whose interpretation of Gollum I never think about. Gone before I knew to miss him. And now of Tamara. Whose smiling face was so much like her sister’s and so different. I never think about the time she copy-pasted a paper for my class and I asked her why, when she so clearly was capable. Ran out of time, she replied, unapologetically. Gone in a twitter of my Blackberry.
In a moment of random situation-ethical behavior, I looked up her Facebook page. I don’t know, I wanted to touch base, I guess, with what was, who was Tamara. She was my Facebook friend. She was my student once. She was Tahanny’s sister, and the Lee’s daughter, the Lee’s and the Betancourt’s granddaughter. She was someone’s best friend, and someone’s girlfriend. She was the one someone, somewhere always turned to.
Twenty hours ago via social media he asked her, “uff uff uff jajajaja mas bien tu que ondaa donde te has metidooo??? que haras hoyy???”
She didn’t know the answer was die.
None of us ever know the answer, even when we think we do. We don’t know when the last kiss is the last kiss, when the last laugh is the last laugh, when the last goodbye is the last goodbye. And we never, ever, think about it anymore. Even though we always always do. ~LD