How Strange To Bury A Friend

How strange to wake up like this.
How strange, my dear friend
I have loved so much
so deep in my shattered heart,
the sudden weight of your death
as wide as a rough sea
expanding from my sternum,
unraveling the broken parts,
a battleship reduced to splintered planks.

How strange that you are unreachable,
that I can not text you or pm you
or whatsapp you or call you
or eat with you or laugh with you
or train with you on the mats
or dream and plan with you
with our elbows on the table.

How strange to have plans
to train with you this night
and know that I can’t but still
feel responsible to show up.

How strange to talk of you, Aaron,
to write your name,
to have you so completely
corporeal in the memory
of my own mouth
that said your name,
that still says your name,
will say your name,

and in my own arms
that held and hugged you,
and in my own body that you bruised
with hard work on the mats
to get the details right.

And my own eyes
opened or closed
can still conjure your face,
your smile, your light.

How strange, Gd, this fate.
How strange, Gd, are Your ways.

How strange to feel this same love
so heavy in my heart now
like a punch to the liver,
shutting everything down,
knocking me to my knees.

How strange, how strange.

How strange this new weight of him
in this pale pine box
cutting into my palms,
pulling from my shoulders,
this weight of him
given to gravity
without restraint.

This is how you bury a friend:
you carry the body in a box,
everyone around you
abiding the weight with you,
hundreds of people
from all walks of life
heavier for the emptiness

he leaves.

How strange to be diminished so
and still have the heaviness grow.

How strange, how strange,
in these seven pauses,
the prayerful murmuring,
the humble procession
befitting the man,
Meir Berish Ben Betzalel Tzvi,
how I see through this box
the curve of your broad shoulder,
the serenity of your smirk,
a sense of assurance,
a sense of wonderment,
and, here, your bruising hands,
and, here, your bruised shins,
your life having been many battles
you’ve won and lost.

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How strange this burden,
carrying you with finality,
to not want to bear it,
to not want to give it up.

We lay him down and walk backwards
not having released him at all,
carrying him still, filling us, one and all.

The weight of an incomplete life,
the weight of the depths of earth,
of dirt and rocks and roots,
the weight of unrequited dreams,
the weight of worlds not yet created,
the weight of love not yet shared.

There is no lightening this impossible load.


Days later, I visit a former student
and meet her newborn baby.
I hold her in the crook
of my arm and cradle her.

All through my singing heart,
a healing, a prayer,
a song, a lyric, a verse
building to another…

How strange, how strange,
the weight of this child,
the weight of boundless promise,
the weight of a whole life to live,

the weight of light.




Slightly altered image from Flickr.