“Everything is everything, but you’re missing.”
~ “You’re Missing,” by Bruce Springsteen
My friend is missing.
I feel justified in calling him a friend, although others more rightfully own claim to that title by virtue of knowing him better than I do. Truth is, I don’t feel like much of a friend in these circumstances.
Not because I lack the details and the history and the memories that come with such a friendship. It’s true, I don’t have those. When you get right down to it and become technical, he and I are somewhere between a casual acquaintance and friend. If there’s a definition for that thing for people who have talked writing – Jesus, his phenomenal, amazing, creative, kickin’ some serious ass and taking names kind of writing – and who have talked messy relationship breakups, and who have shared a table at Eat’n Park with a group of other like-minded souls … well, then we are that.
He has been missing for three weeks.
And in that time, there has been the deafening silence, the kind that gnaws with its unknowing as I hit refresh, refresh, refresh on the news sites. What a hell of a news week this has been and I get that, I do, I really do. Others, gone, both here and everywhere: an octogenarian, a 2 year old, nine people in a church, a six week old. It is easy for news stories to vanish, too, because there will be another to replace it. Others more sensational than one grown man gone missing.
Missing takes different forms, I realize, and I begin to think of others slipped away, gone silent. It occurs to me that I haven’t heard from that other friend for awhile; his mother recently died and I wonder how he is doing; Facebook tells me his account has been deactivated and so, thus, there goes another.
A friend’s son is gone and I send a message: you’ve been on my mind, I say, and that is all. Just love. Just that.
I vow to pay better attention, to notice who has gone silent, who has dropped off the grid. To step in before it is too late and to hold you and you and you and, yes, even you – all of you who I love, all at once, both collectively and singly, because this is what I know of this crazy world: it is a fragile one which has the power to make all of us disappear, poof. And then, sometimes it takes too much time to realize it and then, we are just as lost because they are gone. And we don’t know what this emptiness is like until it makes its presence known, stamping its feet in a tantrum, screaming maybe if I was more cognizant of the missing more often, maybe then I could have said something, maybe a comment would have made the difference, maybe I could have caught us at just the one right, perfect moment.