Friends have been asking me how I’m doing and I usually say something like “I’m hanging in there” or “Some days are shitty and some are slightly less shitty.” I always thank them for checking in on me and I mean it from the bottom of my heart because I’m still overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness and support I’ve been receiving as I’ve never been in this position before and therefore never realized how difficult it is to take in so much love all at once. But when it’s just me sitting on the couch or lying in bed by myself, it’s a different story.
Have you ever tried to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense and yet you keep trying because you think it will provide some tiny amount of relief, connecting all the dots, explaining the unexplainable, like that somehow will make the excruciating pain go away, knowing that nothing can ever take the pain away. It’s sort of a crazy feedback loop, when you’re stuck inside your own head and the walls are filled with pictures of him and wherever you look there he is looking back at you, and sometimes he’s smiling and sometimes he’s sad and sometimes he’s angry and sometimes he’s completely expressionless, but he’s always looking you directly in the eye and you want to hold him and shake him and hug him and kiss him, and more than anything you want to hear his voice, you want to hear him crack a sarcastic joke or curse you out or say I love you, but he can’t speak because it’s just pictures. So you dig a little deeper, looking for memories that come with their own soundtracks, and you think you can hear him, but really it’s just you putting words in his mouth—I love you, Dad, I love you, Dad, I love you, Dad—over and over until it’s just a faint whisper and then you’re back to the unrelenting silence. So you begin to scream and cry because you want this horrible dream to be over and you keep saying it was just a bad dream, it was just a bad dream, it was just a bad dream, just like you said to him when he was having one, and then you take a deep breath and dry your eyes and now you’re just sitting on the couch and looking at the photo of Rob, the one that was in the Esquire story all of those years ago, the one where he’s 7 and you can see the exquisite beauty of his sadness, it’s the one photo that captured who he is on the inside, and you say out loud Why Rob? Why, Rob? Why? Why? Why? And he looks right back at you—the most beautiful boy in the world—and doesn’t say a word.