Today I read your obituary in the newspaper.

I can't imagine the difficulty it took for your parents to sit down and write their only son's obituary. Their handsome and healthy son, who was just 34 years old. The son who they were planning on celebrating the thirty fifth birthday of just five days later. The son who they'd never seen so happy. The son who they were expecting a call from any day with the joyful news of engagement, not their worst nightmare, a three a.m. call from the emergency room announcing his death. And yet, that is now the reality, the reality that we are all facing every day in new ways.

Just when it feels like the news of your death has sunk in, a new discovery proves that it has not. The pain is so raw.

I remember when I wrote my eulogy for you. It was just three days after your death. I had barely slept. I was traumatized by being witness to my worst nightmare. I hadn't eaten anything and what I'd tried to eat, I'd thrown up. I was in shock. I was being held on my feet only by the sturdy arms of friends and family. I was on the brink with every breath.

I had my father go out and buy me a new notebook. I simply requested a "nice" one. I couldn't open a computer to write, that seemed too official, like work. And if I had used a computer, I knew I would be stimulated by all of the other material on the screen, like the show I had been watching just minutes before on that night you seized. So, armed with my notebook, I sat down on our bed and began to write.

As I wrote, I felt as though my hand wasn't doing the writing. I felt like I was being channeled by something larger. Maybe it was simply adrenaline. Maybe it was your help. But just like your incredible family and the obituary, I made it through. I strung sentences together and wrote down everything I needed to say out loud to a crowd of witnesses. I wrote the vows that I'd intended to write to you on our wedding day. As I wrote, it became more real. My new notebook wrinkled with dried tears. Words on paper seemed to make your death more concrete.

I heard the obituary had been printed today. I had already read the text before press with your sister Berkley. We had both cried and talked about how beautiful it was. We had chosen the final photo to be used. But today, when I asked my parents to bring me a copy of the newspaper, it became real all over again.

I saw my mom's hesitation as she handed the obituary to me, a single page already separated from the rest of the issue. I reached for the paper with an outstretched hand, fingers trembling. I felt it between the pads of my fingers, grey and thin. It is the same newspaper I read the comics in as a young child. Peanuts made me smile with anthropomorphic pets and witty punchlines every Sunday morning. The same newspaper that I saw a picture of myself in when I was eleven and in the Nutcracker. I had red cheeks, a heart painted on my lips, toe shoes on my feet, and the tight fitting red and gold trim jacket of a solider. The same paper that I would look up movie times in when scheduling teenage co-ed excursions with a boy I might hold hands with. The same newspaper I would help my grandma clip coupons from. The same newspaper that featured the firm I was at when I worked with the Olympics as a young professional. The same newspaper I dreamt would someday house our marriage announcement. The newspaper had arrived every morning to our doorstep without fail for the past thirty years. My dad would go fetch it in his robe while the current family dog would run out alongside him and take her morning pee in the front yard. But today's newspaper was different. Today, in the obituaries, alongside nine strangers who all looked so old, was you – my Ted – looking so handsome, so young, and so ready to take on the world.

Obituary can be found here.

No comments:

Post a Comment