A Death Too Young

A portrait of the artist as a young man, as he will remain. RIP

Icome out of the bathroom to find my wife crying. My mind immediately scans through all the people that could die. Then the horror of which one.

He was such a young man. Such a sweet kid. He taught our children art. He brought us paintings, cake, ceramics, he had so much love inside and he used it to create. Now he’s just gone. It puts everything in perspective I guess, when all you can see is the ground.

Downstairs, the first plate I touch was made by him. He made beautiful plates and cups with our names on them. An earthly white surrounded by angelic blue. Our daughter dropped hers and cried, we said Uncle would replace it soon. And he would have, for certain, if forever hadn’t come too soon.

Where do we go with this, when people go? A human being is a social being, we are a web of relationships more than skin and bones. When a connection is severed it shudders through the whole network, you join hands around the absence at a funeral, but it remains an open wound.

When we go out it’s raining and I feel as miserable as a wet dog. Everybody’s going through some shit. We still ask each other ‘how are you?’ but nobody says ‘it’s fine’ anymore. It’s just one thing after another until you can’t anymore, and then it’s one more.

I don’t even know what year it is. I was looking for a poem from decades ago but it turns out it was just years ago. I don’t know what time even means. How relevant are trips around the sun when the Earth itself is on fire? How important is the moon when every festival gets observed alone? The ancient observances are being broken, time itself is running out.

My grandfather died before I was born but every year, for over 50 years, the family held a dhane in his name. We fed him—our ancestor—by feeding monks, by feeding our neighbors, and so his spirit was sustained. And so we, as a connected family, were sustained. Then during COVID, for the first time in my lifetime, the dhane stopped. When the dead don’t eat, the spirit starves. That’s where we are.

We stopped having our friend over because of COVID too. The art classes stopped and just never came back. We saw him for his birthday, he came over when he was in trouble, but we hadn’t fed him anything since. Now we can’t. Now we have nothing but regret. We should have reached out sooner, not that we could stop anything, but just to let him know that we cared. Now it’s too late. And nothing can change. Death is an immeasurable chasm. He’s gone and it’s just there.

My wife is crying every day because she felt she didn’t show him enough when he was alive. I carry sadness around like the sound of rain, behind glassy eyes. My son heard and just wept, he still wears his emotions outside. We tell them what happened because it won’t be the last. They have to understand, what it is to not understand.

Like UGK said, one day you here, and then you’re gone. Like Bun B said:

When we lost him, I knew the world was comin’ to the end
And I had to quit lettin’ that devil push me to a sin
My brother been in the pen for damn near ten
But now it look like when he come out, man, I’m goin’ in
So, shit, I walk around with my mind blown in my own fuckin’ zone
’Cause one day, you’re here, the next day, you’re gone

The other half of UGK died in 2007. Our friend died at age 26, this year. People are dying everywhere, all the time, these interminable deaths of despair. When you pick up the phone you never know who it’ll be about.

A painting he gave our kids

These are the days at the end of days, when even the sun and moon have abandoned us. These are the cycles that have stopped repeating, these are years that have lost meaning; these are the times when the dead are unfed and the living starve. Rest in peace, you sweet, sweet motherless child. Mashallah, you’re with her now.