This afternoon I read on Facebook that a friend’s sister died, and I was sad. 18-year-olds shouldn’t die, but life isn’t fair.
This evening I had dinner with a friend who has cancer. People shouldn’t have cancer, but life isn’t fair.
After dinner I was skimming the past month of obituaries as I occasionally do. It’s a morbid occupational hazard, you know—checking to see if any of my pharmacy customers have died.
Tonight I read your obituary.
I assume you overdosed, though it’s also possible your heart simply gave out after years of drug abuse. There’s no way to know for sure.
It’s pouring rain outside as I write this.
I don’t know how to feel.
The thing is, I felt an abnormal closeness to you but I didn’t particularly like you. You talked about yourself too much. You made references that felt vaguely like come-ons. Hell, I stopped going to a support group that you attended simply because I wasn’t comfortable with you.
I think I feel melancholy, but I’m just not sure. How do I feel melancholy when I didn’t even like you?
I remember once you told me that before drug tests, you would stop at a gas station and cath yourself with urine from a clean donor. It was so clear to me you had a serious problem, and I couldn’t understand how you didn’t see that. You felt clever because you were able to outsmart the system.
You were an incredibly bright man to do such incredibly dumb things, but you loved the thrill of outsmarting the system.
Now I see it. I recognize myself in you. I see the awful, shameful truth: I want to be smarter than everyone around me. I want to prove that I’m better.
Because that will make me worthy.
Oh, Mike. I’m sorry I disliked you because we were too similar.
I’m so sad for you.
I’m so sad for me.
Today I read your obituary and I want you to know that I feel the aching loss of you.