Friday, November 21, 2008

In Memoriam

(something like this was supposed to be posted yesterday, but I'm a dumbass and didn't bring my mobile broadband stuff with me on the trip, so it had to wait until I was once again in wireless range)

Yesterday it was two years ago Henrik killed himself. Mah Girl and I hooked up with Mikaela, Henrik's ex, and went to the cemetery where his ashes are scattered. We lit candles, stood in silence for a while and then talked a bit about Henrik and life. Considering what Mikaela has been going through (lots of info on that on her blog, in Swedish), it was good to see her and to see her smiling.

The visit was better than I expected. I have been dreading it for quite some time now, but it turned out to be a calm and spiritual experience. I still miss Henrik, but I know now that time will allow me to come to terms with his death, even though I'll always wonder why.

Henrik. Happy. Hairy. Hilarious.

The text below was written early 2007, two or three months after he died. I was unable to write anything during that winter, and realized that the only way to get around that was to write about him. About all the things I was feeling. The text is completely unedited since I wrote it, and I probably won't touch a word of it. It isn't about guilt or anything really, just something I had to get out to move on.

I was considering bringing a copy of the text to the cemetery yesterday, to leave it there, but I didn't, since I didn't want anyone to read it. Last night, on my back in a bed I've never slept in before, I realized that internalizing this again will only bring about writer's block or other problems. So I'm posting it. And next week I'm leaving a copy at the cemetery.

For Henrik. Rest in peace. Vaffanculo!


It felt like falling. Down into some dark abyss, where you know a rock hard floor is waiting, but you can’t see it. That whole day, after I found out, felt like falling. I’m not sure I have landed since. I’m not sure I want to.

Death is never easy to deal with, though sometimes it seems like a good thing. My grandmother passed away after spending several years in a care facility, slowly shrinking and forgetting the beginnings of conversations at the end of them. Who she really was only became visible during brief moments, like glimpses into someone else’s life, a life clouded behind dementia and the smell of disinfectant. For some of us, her death felt like a release. An end to suffering, for her and us. I loved my grandmother, but I didn’t cry at her funeral. I was 20. Her death had been processed earlier, I think. A death of the soul, not the body.

During the ten plus years since, I’ve only had to deal with one single death, until November. I keep wondering if that’s normal. Maybe the cliché has it right, that the number of deaths around us multiply as we grow older. At least those that really matter.

He wasn’t a close friend, really. We met in college, those first days when the class is trying to establish some sort of social hierarchy, rearranging and bonding according to opinions, shared interests and plain dumb luck. We didn’t like each other at first. In fact, we each thought the other was an obnoxious, arrogant loud-mouth. That lasted about a week. Over time, he became the only one in the class I really got close to. We spent hours at a rundown café, talking music and other things, when we should have been studying, and did a radio show for a few months with a bespectacled madman named Victor.

We drifted apart after that year, as you do when you end up in different places, with different people. New social circles were created, old ones revisited or resurrected. Too busy with life to really keep in touch, we still tried to. When we both ended up in Stockholm we re-established contact, and managed to work around our respective schedules to hook up for coffee, beer or music at least occasionally.

Looking back at the whole thing, at him, I think maybe he was the one friend that was most like me. Or at least most like me a few years ago. I’ve slowed down, figured out that it’s OK to take some time to myself, with myself, and maybe become a better person through that. I’m not saying I was better than him, I just like the now me better than the then me. Evolution through introspection, and a good deal of psychotherapy.

It never seemed like he slowed down. Always talking quickly, walking quickly, drinking quickly. Always going somewhere. Of course that was part of what endeared him to people. Like me, he knew people everywhere, and I suspect that like me, he had very few really close friends. Somehow that tempo, the constant running through life, stops you from forging deeper bonds with those you pass. You meet too briefly. I know it was that way for me as I went rushing off to whatever was waiting around the next corner, before I had to slow down. Knowing what I know now, I wished we had seen each other more. I wish we had taken the time, both of us, to stop and talk, at length, about the things that matter. Maybe things would have been different then.

He killed himself in November.


EGE said...

Thank you. For posting this. And I'm sorry for all of it, but glad to hear you're beginning to be able to move on. If I may be so bold as to suggest it, maybe one thing Henrik can still teach you is that writing off the top of your head is really not the bad thing you think it is? For you -- I mean, if this piece is any indication -- it seems to work quite well.

Eva said...

Tack för att du delar med dig av din naket avskalade känslomässiga reflektion. Starkt!
Jag håller med EGE, allt du skriver behöver inte alltid vara helt genomtänkt, perfekt och editerat. Ovanstående känns äkta och det berör.

beardonaut said...

EGE (How come the capitals now, your name was in lower case before, right?): And thank you for the comments. I will try to do it, but it will probably be a lengthy process to get there.

Eva: Tack för kommentarerna.

EGE said...

I'm not posting from home, maybe that's why the capitals? Dunno...

mistlur said...

min kära martin, jag tror att det som gör mest ont i dig är den gnagande känslan av att du någonstans inte kände Henrik när han visade sig vara kapabel till någonting sådant här. var fanns tendenserna till det i era diskussioner? jag träffade honom några enstaka gånger och han var en enastående människa rent energimässigt. och jag tror du har helt rätt i din slutsats, det vi lärt oss är verkligen att vi måste ta hand om oss själva och göra de val vi måste för att vi ska må bra innombords. ibland lättare sagt än gjort. mer om det imorn säger jag. lunch med dig ses fram emot enormt!

beardonaut said...

mistlur: Det är så klart också en faktor. Och ja, ibland lättare sagt än gjort. Tror det är många som behöver lära sig att fokusera mer på sig själva än på andra. Jag förespråkar inte egoism här, men ibland måste man sätta sig själv i första rummet.