Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact. But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.
Maybe it was the lyric or the couple of glasses of whiskey I drank earlier in the evening that kept pushing me deeper and deeper into the car seat. Hitting the back button on the stereo, I turned and gazed out into the blurry night every time Springsteen sang those words. I closed my eyes and felt the warm rush of tears as I thought about where his spirit was now that his body is gone.
“What happens to us when we die?” I blurted to my boyfriend as he drove us home from the memorial service. I was a child again, hoping that someone could give me a direct answer on this thing that looms over all of us.
He began answering matter-of-factly, the sort of answer one without a religious upbringing gives. Like me.
But I don’t want to believe that I’m not sure what to believe.
We sat two rows behind her. The widow of the young man who died so sadly. The sight of her petite shoulders occasionally heaving up and down sat in the corner of my vision. I tried to look away out of fear that I would lose my composure, but she stayed strong. Strong for all of us. She watched her husband pass away only a few days earlier, but there she stoically sat. We watched her stand in front of all of us and recite stories about his last days. Her voice quivered in absolute exhaustion, but she finished each thought in a way I couldn’t comprehend. I would have fallen to the floor or run out of the building as far away from Austin as I could.
There we all sat- old friends, new friends, people who never even met- all brought together by this one man. This one man who is no longer with us, but who has been in all of our thoughts over the past 8 months of his fight with cancer. Throughout the tears, there were laughs and smiles. We drank and ate and listened to records to celebrate a life.
But as we drove home listening to ‘Atlantic City’, my boyfriend’s answer becoming white noise to me, all I kept thinking about was the next morning when she wakes up and realizes none of it was a dream. Then the next evening when she’s lying in bed alone.
I want more than anything for her not to have these future moments.