July 20, 2007

Walk On. A Little Tougher, a Little Stronger. Walk On.

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.

11 comments:

dan telfer said...

What you said about closure is very true. I will have to steal that logic.

Bella Rossa said...

Maybe we can try it out together with future stand-up efforts.

But for now, I have the day off, and just took a little something to help me sleep, so ZzzzzZZZZZzzzZZzzzzz...

wonderturtle said...

Wow. Well said.

Bella Rossa said...

Sort of an emotional braindump, now that I look back on it, but thanks, wonderturtle.

Chancelucky said...

Very touching post Bella. I'm sorry that the Chicago Comedy community lost one of its brighter lights in Pat Brice.

I don't know that there is a right time to wait, but in the end we don't move forward unless we do something about it. I'm glad you made it to Chicago. fwiw, I"m not sure there's anything wrong with small towns or small lives unless that's not what you want for yourself.

nora said...

Bella,
That was beautifully told. I am so sorry for the great loss to your community.
I'm sure the Bastion has been a great source of comfort for everyone.
Get some more rest...

Bella Rossa said...

Chance - totally legit point about small towns...it is right for some, and it was for me, too, at first...and then it just wasn't.

Nora - thanks fo the kind words. I got some naps in this afternoon and am hitting the pillow very hard very soon.

Dale said...

I'm glad you broke the rules and wrote this Bella. Life, love, the truth, they all hurt at times. It's a shame about Pat Brice. Keep walking on.

Bella Rossa said...

Thanks, Dale. Thanks for reading.

AHP said...

Bella,

My condolences for the loss of your friend. The younger the person is, the more wrong it feels. It's hard to be objective about it when it's somebody you care about. As you know, based on my recent experience, such an event in your life will change it for a while if not forever. One thing is for sure though. A person who cared about you and passes away would not want you to be sad for too long or to put your life on hold for very long.

Take care. Hope your doing better now.

Bella Rossa said...

Thanks, Atul. His family has been appreciative of the comedy scene's amazing outpouring of love and support, and has been sharing their own thoughts, similar to yours.

His brother, very touchingly, said "Take a leap of faith, be relentless, pursue your dreams, call a friend in need, tell your family you love them, travel and make someone laugh."

Hope you are doing okay with your loss, too, Atul.