So it’s on Facebook this morning that I find out Stevan’s brother is dead.
And it’s one of those moments that doesn’t make contact.
I read the post several times, trying to make sense of it. But it’s too sudden and I’m not ready.
I’m not ready for my childhood friend to have lost his brother. Not ready for that complicated story to have found its tragic end.
If I’m completely honest, I’m not ready for us to be grown up.
And standing there, looking at the computer screen, I experience the oddness of time circling in on itself. Of my brain heart soul memory being catapulted into a space behind my four-year-old eyes as I approach Stevan for the first time, in Danny’s sandbox. Bring him home with me. Pour him milk. Begin a friendship that will span our lifetimes.
We’re scarcely in touch anymore, but those moments still exist.
And because of them I know him, feel him, love him.
(We were each other’s childhoods.)
Now he’s lost his brother.
I guess there were no rules, but that wasn’t supposed to happen.
When you’re a child, you drop rocks into an abyss if you want to measure how far down it goes.
Without knowing yet that some of the pits are bottomless.
That some of you won’t make it.
It’s so easy for me to perceive our childhood as still spilling out before us. And impossibly, I think some part of me must live under the naive impression that it isn’t over, that we’re just taking a break.
And yet, Stevan is a grown man now, I a grown woman.
I’ll never have a day again when I swing open the back door and see him sitting there, waiting for me to come out and play.
And perhaps it sounds so silly, but that’s all I want today.
I miss our childhood. I miss Stevan and his dazzling little grin. I miss running barefoot with him.
So I open the back door, anyway.
And it breaks my heart that he’s not there.
That instead he’s far away, making funeral arrangements for a brother that is not coming back.
I close my eyes. Imagine holding his warm little hand.
(“It all turned out a little harder than we thought it would, didn’t it?” young Delilah says to him, from that inexhaustible place of their shared and radiant innocence. He’s quiet. He wanted a different ending, too.)