The first week of February I came home from work to find my housemate’s mother on the phone with a 911 operator. The police and fire dept. came and found my housemate’s crumpled body on the floor of my rented room and confirmed his passing. He was only 26.
About a year before, we found ourselves with a need for additional funds in order make the rent payment every month. We met this young man through and ad on Craig’s List. He told us that he suffered from seizures and was sick enough to not be able to work, but had help from his folks when it came to paying the rent. He was friendly with us, and close with his family. He, his mom and his sister got together frequently to go out for dinner or just hang out. That day, he and Mom had planned one of their dinner get-togethers, and she came over, wondering where he was.
What makes his passing so extremely weird is that while we knew that our housemate was sick, he never acted like a terminal person. The day before he died, he was walking around talking about how much fun he had watching the Super Bowl. Every day, he was cheery and positive. Every day, there were friends coming over spending time with him. He didn’t dwell on not feeling well, but took a yoga class instead. He didn’t just sit because he couldn’t drive; he walked to the store, or found rides. He didn’t become angry or obsessive because he didn’t have a girlfriend; he claimed it was for the best and developed other relationships. And he never martyred himself because of his illness, or the fact that his sister was also extremely sick. He simply did all that he could to support his family. Abraham Lincoln said “Folks are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.” Despite his limited health and resources, it seemed as if my housemate made up his mind to be happy.
I think that it is easy for us to forget how fragile life is. So many of the things that we believe are entrenched and permanent, such as a job, a relationship, or family ties, can fall away at inopportune moments. The loss is never as bad as the residuals. There is always the lingering desire to pick up the phone and call, when you remember that you can’t. People leave piles of left over stuff you would never need or know what to do with. Or else they leave empty spaces where stuff used to be. I believe that we leave traces of ourselves wherever we go, and when we leave, the marks are still there. The other day while cleaning up his room, I came across his shoes. They were just sitting there, under the coffee table, just like mine do when I come home and kick them off to relax. Like a flash, I recalled all of the times I had seen him wearing those shoes as he puttered along with his gimpy gait, walking to the store, visiting us in the kitchen, coming out to enjoy the yard. They were just shoes, but the sensations they evoked were so powerful that after staring at them for a moment I turned and left.
I had a friend who believed in reincarnation. She explained that souls will occupy the earth for as long as they need to, to work out their issues. She believed that the reason her sister died in infancy was because her soul was near perfection, and it only needed a short stay on this plane to reach Nirvana. Possibly my housemate’s attitude and actions elevated his eternal being to a point where it was no longer necessary for him to exist in this life.
As bittersweet as the last bite of ice cream in your bowl or the last sip of coffee in your cup, we still feel the residuals of his passing. As much as I will never forget the image of him lying there in death, I will also never forget the sound of his favorite song, the smell of his incense, or the colors of the plaid jacket he always used to wear. We will miss you my friend…may you rest in peace.
For this post, it was recommended that I post a recipe for Angel Food Cake.
It’s a good suggestion, but I’ve never actually made one. If you wish to try, here are wonderful recipes from All Recipes.com