On a night when I needed a whole lot of sleep, I didn’t get any at all. A little exhausted from work, a little woozy from two of the special cocktails the bartender made for me (also at work) and with three bites of chow mein in me, I gave up on my Friday night. It was 9:30 PM and I was constantly tossing and turning. Falling asleep should have been easy for me given the factors, but also it’s something I’ve never had trouble with.
I thought about the shooting that had happened in Oregon this past week and all of the families that never had a chance to say goodbye to the loved ones they had lost. And then I remembered when we lost Sam a year and a half ago and how it pained me that I also never said goodbye to him because we thought we would always have time. Very rarely do we get that sliver of time though. It triggered it. Something that I had only talked about with one other person in my life at the time, but have kept it hidden since.
When I heard the news, I knew I had to fly to Salt Lake for the funeral. I hadn’t talked to Sam since I had moved away from Seattle and we didn’t keep in touch even after I had settled here, but I felt like I had to be there. Three of my best guy friends were flying from Seattle and Sacramento and in a way I felt like I was half there for Sam and half there to support my friends in being his pallbearers. My friends had told me that they knew that I was there for them too, which was a comforting feeling. It was like something out of a movie and it was the toughest scene to watch and be a part of.
Salt Lake was beautiful. What an extraordinary place. The mountains were the closest I’ve ever seen them and it’s amazing. This wasn’t the way that we had all hoped to be in the city for, but if there’s something that we were grateful for – it was seeing the hometown that Sam grew up in – seeing and walking through the halls of his childhood home. It was meeting his friends that he had a childhood with and went to high school with – learning about Sam’s life through them. They were so far removed from his college years that they were wanting the same from us – to hear the stories that we had to share. They’d say in response, “Wow, that sounds exactly like Sam.” And we were relieved that we all knew the same person, that we didn’t know two different people.
There’s an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” where Robin cries on the subway like she doesn’t give a damn and doesn’t care that strangers are watching her. I remembered walking to my gate after saying goodbye to two of the boys and feeling like I had been strong all weekend. That’s what I thought I needed to be for them. It was a different story when I finally got to my gate and sat down. Talking to Jodie over text since she couldn’t make it, I completely had that “Robin” moment. I was upset at not saying goodbye when I should’ve. I think for a second, I wondered a few things:
What are people thinking of me right now?
Is anyone going to come over and ask if I’m alright?
Do I even want anyone to approach me right now?
Do I owe anyone an explanation? I don’t exactly want to tell people that my friend just passed.
This isn’t going to be the last. It isn’t going to get any easier and I realized I have no solution for making this better for myself. Every time these tragedies happen, I take a minute. This is usually the time when people say that time is too short and you need to tell your loved ones how you feel. They’re not wrong. I’m a big advocate of saying how you feel in the moment and being honest with your emotions, but you know what always gets in the way of us doing that? Our pride. We don’t want to be the first to apologize. We want our friends to reach out to us first and we want to feel wanted more than we want to make others feel wanted. Isn’t that an interesting truth?