I don’t know how it happened.
I don’t know where you went after it happened.
I don’t even know if there is a ‘you’ to be after it happened.
There were too many chairs in the room and we had to stand in the back of the room. One lady with a red name-tag came into the room and looked at all of us standing in the back and told us we could go to the overflow room and no one moved. Most didn’t even look at her. She smiled unfazed and walked out. The music turned down low and the main speaker came forward to the podium and said somethings and all I could think about was how thirsty I was and how underdressed I was.
Erica sobbed and I put my arm around her and she buried her head into my chest and we stayed like that in the corner of the room.
The speaker stopped and stepped away from the podium and the music came back on and on the projector screen a series of your images flashed. Whoever made the slideshow chronicled your life with the images. You as a baby, toddler, preteen, teen, now, now…
Erica laughed at one of the pictures and she told me she took that one. She told me that you wanted a new Facebook photo and you two went into the backyard and started fooling around with the camera. Taking obnoxious modeling shots and then finally ending on an ordinary photo. Your smile was sincere like you just had a good time and someone had to take the photo of you because no one would believe how good of a time you just had. Your eyes said it all.
After the slideshow finished your dad, I think, walked up there and started talking about you. He made jokes. We all laughed. We all missed you.
After him your friends went up and all of them were funny. I think that’s how you would want it. I can’t see you not wanting it that way. Your brother went last. He said everything you’d expect a brother to say at a funeral.
And all of this left me with a yearning. I wanted to know what happened. I don’t know why.
I don’t know how it happened, so I’m filling in what happened.
The truck hit you and instead of you flying into the metal death trap, everything opens up into a blackness that you float into and careens you and takes you away. You merge with it. You become infinite. Everything lays out before you and finally there are no barriers holding you back. You run rampant, in the best way. You see time and space at their epicenter and are overwhelmed with whatever and all possibilities you could imagine, and more. You see us. You see me. You see Erica. You see everything. You see us in the corner wondering when we could get a glass of water. You see your family and friends in the front row as they sob and you wish to hold them and you see the ceremony finish and we all leave to go outside and we stand around in the parking lot. No one knowing what to say or do. Do we talk about you? What do we do?
What I did was stand on the outside of the crowd. Erica smoked and we had nothing to say. She was your ex-girlfriend, and I was a satellite of that relationship. We were close, I would say, and I hope you would too, but no one in that crowd knew it. I saw everyone hug your family and I knew I couldn’t do that because they didn’t know me and I wasn’t sad about that because I was talking to you in my head. Not everyone believes in that, but I do.
We stood there for a while. People said hi to us. We laughed. We didn’t mask the grief, we were in grief, and laughter was part of its process.
What I want to know is where were you then? Were you there? Did you see the preacher release the doves into the sky? Did you see me and Erica not knowing what to say to anyone and kick the dirt around on the pavement? Did you hear everyone complain about the weather? What did it look like from up there? What songs did you hear?
I had nothing to say to anyone. I’d never known anybody that’d died before.
It didn’t hit me when I heard the news that you died. It didn’t hit me there at the funeral, either. I lied and told people it did, but I can’t help but feel you’re still there. I can’t help but feel I can text you about anything like I always did and you’d reply in a few hours and we’d talk all night. Forgive me for feeling that way. Eventually I’ll delete your number and that’ll do me in. That’s when it’ll hit. It’ll hit me when I realize I’m not going to get your late night phone calls. It’ll hit me when I realize that all these stupid fucking scripts I wrote no longer have a director. It’ll hit me when I realize I got no one to run movie ideas by. I got no one to talk about movies with, no one that knows them like you do.
Forgive me but I still think you’re here. Whether you were in the crowd when the doves flew or whether you were in the back corner of that stuffy room standing next to us, thirsty and wondering when the whole thing was over so you could go get some fucking water.
I still think you’re here.
I want to know if you still are.