Adam

My friend died.

His name was Adam. He was a lovely, fun individual. I described him as a character from an Edward Gorey tale, and I still find it apt. He was the only human I’ve ever met who capered. He was creepy, and dark, but in a Jack Skellington King of Halloween kind of way. That was his duality, I suppose. He pretended to be a vampire but only if he could carry around a toy stuffed bat to do so.

His humor was a counter to his pain. Adam had lupus, and his body constantly waged war against him. He took medicine to help, but that medicine brought its own boatload of conditions. He described his condition as being handed so many spoons, and those spoons represented his allotted energy.  Unfortunately, there was often more hours in the day than spoons to spend things on.

Adam committed suicide. He left a lot of hurt, confused friends behind him. I mean a lot. Adam was gregarious, charming, engaging, and had an enormous heart. As silly as he could be, if a friend was in pain he was right there, Johnny-on-the-spot, to offer empathy and wisdom. He touched a lot of people’s lives. More people than I rightly know, and we were on different ends of the same community.

His death was all the more tragic because had he picked up the phone, he’d have been spoiled for choice for humans who would have come to help him. He would have no end of people to rely on, to talk him out of his black space, who would have given him their last spoon.

I’ve seen so many faces of grief lately I feel a little dizzy. A lot of angry, sad, wounded people looking for answers from a person who can no longer be asked questions of. I have tried to reach out and be reassuring, to remind people of Adam’s beautiful soul and not of the bleakness of his passing.

The one thing I haven’t done is grieved yet. In my way, my grieving is helping other people grieve. I don’t know what compels me, just some feeling inside that says that I can wait, there are others who need help now.

The truth is that I’m just as conflicted as anyone else. I didn’t know Adam as closely as some do, but the memories I have of him are fond and wonderful. I am terrifically sad that he did it. He was close to my husband and one of my husband’s dearest friends, and seeing the pain that Luke is in while he wrestles with what happened hurts me just as much as losing Adam did.

And that’s the truth of it, right there. Seeing the pain on all of my friend’s faces, it’s killing me. Knowing that I can’t help them all is as painful as losing one of us. It’s ridiculous for me to expect this of myself, to think I could heal them all, but that doesn’t stop my instincts from saying, “Try.”

Adam’s wake is next Friday, and Luke and I will be going, as long as the weather isn’t dangerous. We will be seeing friends who we only see a few times a year, as well as people I have never met. It will be a day of tears, but it will be a day of laughter as we reminisce about Adam and tell his stories.

I remember a time as a teenager, after I’d moved to Washington, when I began to despair of any of my friends surviving their personal angst. No one managed to kill themselves, fortunately, despite their efforts. But now, we’ve lost someone to exactly that affliction, fifteen years after we pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps. Here we have a friend, ravaged by depression, knowing that he had many loved ones that would help him through. He instead chose not to make the call to save himself.

Death is the final destination that claims us. Certainly people have their beliefs, but death is that frontier that we sport glorious ignorance of. Watching everyone react is a reminder of how people deal with reality, when it comes in at a ninety-degree angle from expectation. Myself included. But while I know I will cry for Adam, I will do so knowing that it isn’t what he wanted. That if it were another friend’s funeral, that he would be capering around, or else listening solemnly to his friends, trying to console them. I don’t think I can caper, but I think I can manage the second one.

And I will bring him a spoon.

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Time and Relative Dimension in Geek

Recently a friend complimented me on my time management skills. Her words made me think about these supposed skills. I held them up to the light to give them a closer examination. My conclusion is that these are not the skills she was looking for. I simply fake it well.

Most of my success is based on other people. First and foremost, my husband is my major support. He was raised by independent spirits. His mother, his father, their partners, they all are dream chasers and visionaries. He’s used to it. He is supportive and wonderful. He wanted me to write years ago. I feel a little silly for not taking him up on his offer sooner. Not only does he support me by saying, “I support you,” he steps up and cooks dinner, minds our son, and keeps up with household demands. We still split the chores, but that’s just it. We split the chores. It frees up time, and makes sure he gets free time as well.

Next, I have a lot of friends who understand how busy I’ve become. I have a roster of who I can see and when. My world is becoming colored by my burgeoning writing career, and I thought that would somehow create a loss of friendships. At the time I didn’t realize how many of my friends are just as interested in writing as I am. I thought I was a bit of a lone wolf, but it turns out that I have a pack of “lone wolves” just waiting for me to join them.

Beyond my support group, I will admit to having too many irons in the fire. I agree to too much, and it can’t last. I have no wiggle room for birthdays or anniversaries, for the events that spring up in our lives. There is no routine, there is simply darting from one random event to the next, like a butterfly with the hiccups. However, the balance between work and play, the balance between must and should, the balance between family and friends, these things have been maintained thus far. My house suffers. My bedroom is littered with abandoned paperwork, half-thought through projects, and homeless books. My carpet is neglected. Legos live on every flat surface of my living room.

But the kitchen is clean, the dishes are done, the laundry gets washed. The chores that matter are done, and done consistently. My son’s bed isn’t made every morning, but he’s learning. This is how life works.

I am okay with a somewhat messier house, because I had to break out of the happy housewife routine. Before my writing career,  I was the person cleaning the house, cooking all the meals, ferrying Toby, keeping him entertained. It felt like I was doing that all so my husband could play the next installment of Mass Effect.  That was not a self-sustaining setup, and it had to change. My husband was honestly excited when I brought this problem to him. And now that our household setup has changed, I’m a much happier person.

It isn’t easy to balance as much as I do. Sometimes I forgo a meeting, or cancel a class. Sometimes I have to choose between helping a friend and meeting people I could network with. Sometimes I have to cancel with a friend. (So far that’s worked but I fear the day it doesn’t.) I remember my days as a flakey person and I dread going back to that. I won’t let myself. I do ride along the edge once in a while.

My problem has become that my writing has almost made me too busy to write. Between social media, keeping up a blog, making connections with other local authors and artists, and editing my second novel, I have found it difficult to do what I got into this community to do. Write.

There is something about doing a thing you’re passionate about. The energy involved is give-and-take instead of just give. Receiving energy back boosts you, allowing you to take that one additional step. The reality is my time management skills are made of energy. I’m in a performance, juggling knives while balanced on a unicycle. What keeps me from mistakes? The fact that I love what I do more than I fear that I could get hurt by it.