Death and Vexation

Death and Vexation

The Last Judgment by Gustave Doré

I hate to put a damper on what’s an otherwise lighthearted blog. But that’s life.

An individual with whom I shared an inimitable relationship died a month ago. A month ago tomorrow. Assuming I finish writing this today. Which I won’t. It’ll take some time to organize the obstinate, disheveled thoughts which accompany this particular loss.

What I mean by “inimitable relationship” is he was my best friend.

The term “best friend” connotes I held this particular friendship in higher esteem than any other, which isn’t the case. There is a point at which a friendship cannot become any “better.” A point at which no room is left for improvement. Where it’s become as good as any friendship can be. “Best” refers to the nature of the relationship, not its position relative the others.

Having made this distinction, I have a small handful of best friends. There’s nothing wrong with the others whom I consider my friends. There’s simply room for those relationships to grow. It comes down to trust, I suppose. At least that’s the one common denominator shared between such relationships in my experience. An inherent understanding that this person has your best interests at heart in any feasible situation.

Anyway, this isn’t a post about friendship. It’s a post about death. I didn’t even mean to write those last two paragraphs. However, upon doing so I’m faced with a vexing reality. None of the above existed, or could have existed, within my realm of contemplation until Jay died.

What to do with this trivial tidbit of reality? The fact that he had to die before I could properly posit my relationship with him. I suppose if I knew, it wouldn’t be so vexing.

– – –

There’s no good way to learn of such a tragedy. No form of communication can alter the reality it conveys. I didn’t mind learning from a text message. For some reason I woke up earlier than normal that day. I had been waking up long past noon every day during this juncture of my life. 10:10am. I woke up and sprung out of bed at 10:10am. I know that because the text message which notified me of his death was sent at 10:11am.

It wasn’t until about two weeks later that I put any thought into waking up so early on my own a minute before the message was sent. Why did I do that? For weeks prior my reaction to waking up during the 10:00am hour had been the same as a normal person’s reaction to waking up during the 3:00am hour. Was it a mere coincidence? How could it have been? How could it not have been? Vexing… Vexing…

Upon reading the text, a rigid stoicism pervaded every inch of my being. I stood there for a moment, staring at the text. Painfully aware that the message it relayed would remain the same no matter how many times I read it. I put my phone away. I stood emotionless in the same spot for fifteen minutes. I walked ten feet to the other side of the room, where I stood emotionless for another fifteen minutes.

My day continued as normal. There was a fervent resistance toward accepting, or even acknowledging, what I had just learned. Realizing that it would be unfair to keep this information from my mom, as it would undoubtably alter my mood for the worse, I stood up to tell her. I think it was the act of saying the words that released the maelstrom of emotion. “My friend Jay died this morning.” My eyes well up now just having written it. I loved him.

– – –

I had never suffered a loss like this before. Remarkable, the difference between this and every other loss. I didn’t cry at my Grandma’s funeral. I never felt bad about that, I knew I was sad. I didn’t feel pressure not to cry. I just didn’t.

It’s much different when the elderly die. The sorrow felt by those who loved them isn’t. But death is the rule – inevitable, expected. Old people die. Literally, all of them. There is no alternative. It sucks, but death isn’t something new. Everyone has been conscious of their – and everyone else’s – mortality for as long as they’ve been conscious.

The sorrow is potent regardless. But that Goddamn vexation…

– – –

Interacting with others, especially those who didn’t know the deceased, is perhaps the most vexing of all. I’ve never held disdain toward our society’s tradition of asking one another how we’re doing when both parties clearly possess no interest in the other’s response. It’s polite to feign interest. But I find it quite difficult, when such a question is posed, to answer, “Doing fine,” or even “Not bad,” as opposed to, “My friend is dead. I’m extremely sad.”

You can’t answer like that though. I don’t know why. You just can’t. I wouldn’t really want to anyway.

The worst is the sudden realization of, “Who’s next?” And when? The ability to fathom unanswerable questions is the ultimate bane of humans’ existence. All I know is, Jay died doing something each of my friends do every day – driving. Something tells me that whoever’s next, it won’t be long. What a morbid realization.

– – –

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you read my piece about my experience with DMT – a powerful hallucinogenic drug which I, and many others, have likened to the supposed experience of death. He’s the same Jay from that article. Chills crept up and down my spine when I linked this experience with his actual death. We both believed that perhaps we had, to put it bluntly, been escorted to and through parts of the afterlife as a result of doing DMT. I know it sounds crazy as hell, but until you smoke that shit, your opinion is null and void.

It spurred a whole host of conversations about death between the two of us. We fathomed the existence of an afterlife, and wrestled with the possibility that there isn’t one. These were among the last conversations I had with him.

What does this have to do with anything? I don’t fucking know. It’s just weird. Vexing, if you will.

– – –

One of the aspects of writing which annoys and frustrates me is ending what I write. I think this applies to more than just writing, however. Endings are much more vexing when I have no control over them. I was in no way prepared for such an abrupt ending to the friendship I shared with Jay. Hence the never-ending vexation which spurred the creation of this post. I hope it helps someone come to grips with mortality in general. I think it’s helped me in this regard, at least.

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4 thoughts on “Death and Vexation”

    1. Thank you so much for the compliment. I’m flattered, and very appreciative of the fact you took time to put thought into your response. I read stuff all the time that compels me to leave a comment, but too often I don’t if I can’t come up with something thoughtful right after I finish. Anyway, I don’t think anything else you could have said would’ve meant more than that. I’m always self-concious about how I form the pieces I write.

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