Have you ever spent an entire afternoon in an airport terminal watching people? Of course you haven’t. But if you ever were to, you’d notice the emotion, raw as a nerve ending, radiating off of the people saying goodbye to their loved ones.
Goodbyes are never easy. Back in late April, I lost a very, very dear friend of mine. I had known him for six years and even though we didn’t talk on a daily basis, he was one of the lights of my life. He lived two hours away and about every other month or so we’d get together over drinks and share stories of heartbreak, courage, and the day-to-day grind of living.
He passed away in his sleep. The news hit me like a one-two punch straight in the gut. My legs buckled and my world suddenly became terribly blurry and confusing. He was young, only a couple of years older than me. He had been overflowing with life and energy and things to say the last time I had seen him, so why now? What had happened?
I was in denial about his death for a couple of weeks. I’d find myself calling his phone and sending him texts, hoping that he’d answer. I stalked his Facebook page, and despite the countless number of “We miss you” and “Goodbye” comments, I was sure that he was still somewhere to be found.
The ghosts of our loved ones no longer haunt rickety old staircases and graveyards. They do not come as gusts of wind in the middle of the night. Instead, they come to us in the form of JPEGS and words typed out onto a computer screen long before they died. The blogs and Facebook pages of the deceased are sometimes still available on the Internet long after that person’s life has ended. Those of us left behind can drive ourselves insane pouring over the pictures and words of the people we miss so, so dearly. And sometimes, we can convince ourselves that they are still there, behind their monitor, right on the verge of answering our email or “liking” our status.
I still have my friend’s cell number saved in my phone. Just last week I sent him yet another text, hoping that somehow, his ghost would read it.