My best friend Henry died a year ago today. In every way, my life will never be the same without him. It’s a delicate grieving process that has taught me a lot about trust and facing fear.
I am constantly haunted by terrible nightmares of watching him struggle for life in the hospital. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night and swear I can hear the machine breathing for him, I can hear his little brother gasping for breath in between cries of agony that seemed to be ridding his body of all joy.
Other nights, I lay in bed and think about walking around the block with him the night before he went back to school after spring break. It was the last time I ever saw him in person. It was raining and he called so late, I crept out of my parents house in my slippers and without a jacket. We walked for 45 minutes in darkness, covered in water, not giving it a second thought.
I see a lot of people my age who feel as though they’ve gone through a lot. They say that their life is so complicated and that the only thing that will make it complete is by attaining their aesthetically perfect existence - one void of anything other than materials and cinematic romances. To me, the idea of that rain-soaked walk seems to be the one thing left for me to grasp.
I’m now able to process what has happened and feel a little more confident every day. I have a new band, a great group of friends to lean on, and when the next storm hits, I’ll be ready. If I were ever able to take a time machine back to when Henry was alive but could only pick a few moments, they’d be the most insignificant flourishes. Collective laughs, deep silences, swimming late at night, the porch on the 4th of July when fireworks were blasting in every direction.
If you need a friend, work hard to find someone real. If you need relief, make it a priority. If you find yourself complaining today about your phone, your coffee, your car not starting, think about the person you love most. Think about grasping their hand and trying to make it grasp yours back, even though you know it never will. Live for every moment you have with your friends.
Here’s the happiest moment I’ve had since Henry died. Johnny Marr dedicating “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” to Henry at The Varsity Theater on April 23, 2013. You’ll never dim.
|Artist: How to Dress Well|
|Song: Say My Name or Say Whatever|
|Album: Total Loss|
Nan Goldin. Mary and David hugging, New York City. 1980.
Dan (9/11) - 2001
This is the artist Dan Colen on the night of 9/11. We rode our bikes down to see if we could help out. The streets were covered in dust. The fire department had just started flooding the streets. I remember finding bits of papers and documents scattered around. The truck in the background explains it all. That’s how everything looked. I remember seeing huge stacks of Poland Spring bottled water for the soldiers that had set up base down there. It was all so bizarre. If you lived downtown you could smell the dust for a few weeks afterward.