I'm playing Brandi Carlile's "Story" on repeat and I'm breaking one of the key rules of blogging and internet communication, one you can lump in with "don't write when you're drunk or angry," which is "don't write when you're grieving or underslept." I did not sleep at all last night. Not a bit. I dreaded the sun creeping up the horizon over the glimmering water, but it came, casting pink shadows across my bed.
Last night Kristy and I and hundreds of others gathered at an old Catholic church on the south side of Chicago for Pat Brice's funeral mass, which began about an hour and a half late because the line of people wanting to offer condolences to his mother, father, brother, and sister-in-law wrapped all the way around the block.
The church was absolutely full. People stood in every square inch of the Nativity of Our Lord. As soon as we got out of the car, the sound of church bells chiming out "Danny Boy" immediately brought tears. The words of his family ring in my ears. They looked so shocked. We held their hands and they thanked us for the fact that the Bastion has become a default online memorial for their son. I can't stop thinking about them. Then there were his friends, among them his fellow Blerds. These blustering, boisterous comedy boys who can wring a joke out of anything, staggering around, red-eyed, bewildered. It just felt wrong. It felt like a terrible cosmic mistake had been made.
I didn't know Pat well, but you didn't have to know him to sense the kind of special person he was by measuring the immense amount of grief in this room. This gorgeous, smart, funny, sweet boy, already so good at what he did but not even close to the fruition of the promise of his talent - gone.
Before I go totally off the rails, I will sharpen my point, a realization I'm coming to understand with a painful but beautiful clarity: there is no such thing as "closure." That's a meaningless sound bite that is repeated when people have a camera in their face and are trying to make some media-friendly sense of tragic and painful events.
Life involves pain and loss. People hurt us, whether intentionally or blindly. People are lost to us. Random chance cheats us, stings us, bites us. Life will always offer, along with delights, hurts. They are a part of why we're able to offer compassion to others, part of why we're able to create art, part of the darker range of the color palette that lets us appreciate the contrasting bright tones in those beautiful moments when they present themselves.
For what often feels like a terribly wasteful long time, I suspended my own progress in life. I used to think that I'd have to wait for certain hurts to subside before continuing on with my life and really going after the things I wanted to do. I felt diminished, and weakened, and unworthy to walk ahead on my path and find my future and fulfill my promise. I waited in a small apartment in a small town in Indiana for years and years, living a small life, losing track of the days, tossing and turning in a restless walking sleep, with a dull ache I thought would subside with time. It didn't.
It's not fair that this amazing young man is gone, but he is. It's not fair, and it doesn't make sense, and it hurts, but life hurts, and we have to walk on anyway, with some heaviness in our hearts, and a sting with certain memories, and lingering sense of disappointment. We have to walk on anyway. I want to grow enough to understand that, and accept that, and live that - and walk on. It starts today.