“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him ‘to myself’ now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. … We possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share him increases.”
— C.S. Lewis on the death of Charles Williams and J.R.R. Tolkien’s grief
I like people thoughtful people. Not thoughtful in the sense of being kind – although that’s also nice to be around – but thoughtful in the sense that they take the time to consider some of life’s more difficult, morbid or unpleasant issues. I believe losing a close friend, especially one you look up to as a mentor, qualifies for this category of thoughtfulness.
In a post wrought with naked emotion, a clearly devastated Benjamin Sledge (@SledgeHS) wrote about this subject in a piece called “The Beautiful Awful of Grief and Loss.” He did so not by wearing his heart on his sleeve; his words bleed off the page with sincerity, his heart firmly sutured into his skin and soul.
To quote part of Kahlil Gibran’s own thoughts on friendship, the great sage of the 20th century had this to say: “Your friend is your needs answered…And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart; For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed…And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.”
Death sucks. Losing friends stinks. Cancer’s a fucker. Put them all together in one package and there’s not much more to do than find an outlet for your emotions. Otherwise, it’ll surely beat you down to a pulp and rob you of all hope just as sure as shit the sun will rise in the east and set in the west tomorrow.
So to you, Mr. Sledge, I say good on ya. While I’m sorry for your loss, I believe that by sharing your experience it will only serve to help you – and all those people whose lives your friend touched – plant new roots in the soil of life, knowing that, as always, the spirit of the dead will remain in the memory of the living.
And just as storyteller, veteran and creative liar Benjamin Sledge ended his piece, I’ll also quote the American writer Anne Lamott, who once wrote:
“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t heal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”