I’ve seen this picture around the internet a few times.
Most recently imaginationstation58 from “Out of the Mouth of a Writer” shared it as well. She pushed it as a prompt and asked for 800-1,000 words. I thought I would take to that task for today’s post.
There are a plethora of common answers that I’m sure you can guess. They usually bounce between historical figures, celebrities, or a known intellectuals. But I think the true answer for most people lies elsewhere. We’ve all had someone that we’ve lost before their time, or at least before we were ready to say goodbye. I believe that is who most of us would choose, given the chance.
I was in the 8th grade when I met him. He was tall and lanky even then. I’m not even exactly sure how we met. But however it happened he became a staple in my life. We would eat lunch together every day. When we entered high school the next year we would still have lunch together a lot. We would see each other in the halls between classes and hang out after school. Soon we would even find time to hang out on the weekends and all the time during the summers. We would go to the malls around the city, we would walk up and down miles of beaches just to kill time, we would go to movies, most of all we would just talk. We would talk about all the stuff we thought we knew. Of course as teenagers we thought we knew everything. We would talk about stuff that we didn’t know about. Which the more we talked about that stuff the more we realized we didn’t know everything.
We would play video games (This was back when arcades existed), and we would stay up all night. We were friends, we were the best of friends. When we got to the age where we could acquire such things we would drink together. We celebrated each other’s victories and we were there for each other through our failures. He was the one person I could tell anything and everything to. Eventually I went to college, away from him. But we were still friends. We emailed all the time. This was back when email addresses were still a novelty, but that might be dating myself so let’s not go there. When we weren’t emailing we would find time to call each other and talk about the things that we had no shame in emailing each other about. We would be on chat websites all night while I was pretending to do my homework in the computer labs.
After my first year of college I came home and continued college there. Our friendship of course continued. When we weren’t working we were spending time together. Doing all the things friends should do at all hours of the day and night. Eventually I decided to leave home again to finish school. We fiercely kept in touch. There was hardly a day that went by that I didn’t communicate with him in some way. During the summers we continued our routine as if I had never left.Then it happened.
In the middle of my last semester he got sick. He got terribly sick terribly fast. He had MRSA. For those of you who know what that is I don’t need to explain what an awful infection it is. Suffice it to say, it’s deadly. But he didn’t die, not right away. He got better. After a brutal battle and a series of serious surgeries he was released from the hospital. But it wasn’t long before he went back in. He went in for the last time. The MRSA was back and better than ever. I would like to think that maybe with a different course of treatment or stronger drugs or something that he would have gotten better. But that’s just me stuck at the denial stage of grief. The truth is he never stood a chance. After his lungs collapsed it was just matter of time, a race between his heart and kidney to see which would fail first. Even in those final days I had someone hold the phone on speaker near him so I could talk to him and maybe just hear him breath once more. Maybe just hear him utter one more syllable. I never did hear him again. I never saw him again. I wasn’t able to get out of town until the next week because of my studies. All I ever got to see was the closed container of his ashes when I was at his funeral.
He never got to see me graduate. He didn’t get to be my best man or dance at my wedding. He never got to meet my children. We never got to be roommates. We never got to go back to the club where we met those girls that one time. We never got to watch the sunset on the beach again, and then watch the sun rise over the mountains the next morning, like we did so many times during so many summers. We never got to buy each other shots all night again. We never got to go back to that coffee shop and see that band again. We never got to talk again. I was angry about that for a long time. Eventually I moved past that anger. I went on diligently though the other notable stages of grief, even acceptance. Sometimes I revisit the stages and move through them again.
When I see this picture and question posed I see the comments that go with it from various other readers. Commentators hem and haw over who they would talk to and who the most important person would be. They flip and flop between the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Buddha, Bertrand Russell, Amelia Earhart, Bill Nye, Prince, Madonna, Barack Obama, or any other myriad of notable figures. The question is meant to spark discussion, but I only see it as a formality. There is no discussion for me, because my answer is the same every time.
I would talk to him.