I took the path that lines the beach in Santa Monica. I ran slow at first then followed a runner with a good pace for about two miles. I felt good, strong. I felt purpose, inspiration, kinship, and closeness. I started to gain speed on his pace.
Then, he stopped when I was just a few feet behind him.
He turned around.
He was done.
He had enough.
He didn’t ask me.
He didn’t know me.
He was done.
And I was alone.
I didn’t even know him.
The sun hadn’t even set yet. There were more paths to follow. There were more miles to run.
But that was it.
He was done and didn’t ask me if it was ok. I was thoughtfully happy that I had the mile with him, but was sad that our journey was over.
And then I was alone.
With no one in front of me, I continued to run and listen to music I don’t remember.
I looked at the sun to my left. It was ready to call it a day and leave me. And I knew.
This is what it feels like. Not potential loss and sadness. That’s what I’ve been preparing for since my dad fell ill.
Loss is what I feel now.
I don’t even know him. Not really. Not even in the slightest. And yet, the thoughts of him filled every ounce of my day today. Did he know? Did he even know what his life meant to so many people?
I think about how every day, I kill myself to be fit, thin, smart, witty, pretty and keep up. I work so hard to be the best daughter, sister, friend, teacher, lover, actor and writer.
How difficult it is to work so hard. How difficult it is to have friends and maintain them in this life now. How hard is it to just be, just exist and be ok with what we are, where we are, what we are and how we are living.
How much more difficult is it to let go?
To let it all go.
I woke up in sadness today. I went about my day. Why am I so sad? I’ve been questioning the idea of mortality since my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 metastasized lung cancer. Is he going to make it? Is my mom going to make it, supporting him? Should I go home and be with them now? Later? What happens when my mom gets sick? What happens when I get sick? We’re all going to die, someday?
How are we going to live now?
The day was cold. Today, LA was like New York with palm trees. I felt fuzzy, like I was on allergy medication. Not enough sleep? Maybe. Did I eat too much salt the day before or too much caffeine?
I met a friend for lunch. Nice. I ran some errands, did some work. Non-eventful.
I went for the run before sunset.
There it was.
I was late hearing the news.
I didn’t even know him.
And now he is gone.
I run here, alone and watch the sun as it sets and my eyes fill with tears. Did he get to see the sunset? If he saw it, would it change his mind? If I could just show him, perhaps he would know. Perhaps he would feel differently.
It didn’t happen.
The wind, I think. That is what is making my eyes water.
How could I feel for someone I don’t know?
Because there is a man out there that is no longer there.
I knew him by association. I knew him because the people I knew, knew him. I knew the work he did. I knew he was funny and talented. I knew he was nice. He was nice to me, but I didn’t know him. We were in the same circles of friends. Circles of friends that are now so broad for me, it would be strange to call them friends and yet…
I’m very angry. There is a man out there that isn’t…
For reasons I won’t know. There is a man that is no longer out there that is causing hurt and sadness for reasons they will never know.
Oprah has stories. The news has stories. How sad. But it never happens with people you know. It never happens.
I tried to wrap my mind around his decision.
Things suck right now. Dad is sick and I’m overdrawn in my account. I miss my family. I’m alone. No love. I’m lonely. I fail often. I am sad.
I can walk out in the middle of traffic. It’ll be quick. I’m clever. I can go home, find a rope, tie it around something and it’ll all be over. Does anyone feel this too?
I question why, often.
But, I can see the sunset everyday. I can run miles. I can tell jokes and make people laugh. I can teach classes and make people feel good. I can talk to my family and friends. I can try for things. I love my life.
I remember when I was young and two kids from my school got into accidents and lost their lives. I remember the mourning. I remember people who didn’t even know them, were sad and crying. I remember thinking, what is wrong with them? They didn’t even know them. What do they have to cry about? How shallow? And here I am. All I’m doing is thinking about a boy I don’t even know and I’m crippled with sadness.
What is wrong with me?
There is a man, I barely know but have on many occasions thought about. He doesn’t know. He’ll never know. We don’t know when someone is thinking about us. Perhaps we should tell them. Perhaps we should take extra seconds from our days and tell the people we think about, even if it’s for a moment, that we are thinking about them and hope they are well. Maybe, because of the birth of such things as facebook, that we waste numerous hours on, we should take a moment to share, not just our success with, but also our thoughts with.
‘Just thinking of you and that time we had together…”
‘I love you.’
‘I’m here for you.’
‘I know it’s been a while, but I’m thinking of you.’
I have over 500 friends on facebook.
Are they my friends, really?
Their lives matter to me. Their life matters to us, whatever they do.
This is my problem. My problem is that we ALL know so many people, especially with technology today. We can’t all be as present as we may like to be in everyone’s life, but we are.
I do not talk to many, not in the slightest bit, but I think about them. I do. You do. In a moment, you might have a memory or a story or a situation that might bring up an old friend. It might not even spur on the inspiration to contact that old friend, but you think about them. Don’t you?
I think about him. I’ve thought about him. We are not friends, but we are friends by association. He’s gone now and I feel his loss. I feel his loss because my friends feel his loss. Because there is one more of us ‘people’ who is gone. There is someone I know that has affected people in a positive way and has decided he doesn’t want to be here in this world anymore.
What were his thoughts before? How did he do it? Did it hurt? Did he know that he would affect so many people? Did he know that his passing would hurt people he didn’t even know?
Oh my god, were you in pain? How long did you have pain? Could we have just reached for you, held you and told you it would be ok or was it already too late? How could you? What could we have done?
I didn’t even know you and it has affected me. I’m angry that you were sad or lonely or desperate enough to take your life away.
You have left a hole. One that everyone close to you feels. And then there is me. I don’t even know you and I feel it. How many of us are out there that weren’t blessed to know you that you left a hole in. Your life left a hole in more people you will ever know. I’m devastated that someone couldn’t reach out to you to change your decision. I will never know you or your decision.
We might not all be present in each other’s lives but we are all important.
Our existence is absolutely necessary. It is necessary for us to exist, succeed, fail, get married, give birth, divorce, travel to distant lands and share stories with each other, together.
I need you. You need me. We need each other.
There is absolutely nothing that is that bad that we can’t be here for each other.
Your presence is felt. It is known.
Don’t disappear. It affects everyone. Absolutely everyone.
In all it’s pain, tragedy, horror.
In all it’s laughter, happiness and memories.
In gratitude to all of it.
All of our close friends, those in the circle and the circle outside of that circle and the one outside of that one, in youth and beyond.
You might be gone but you will always be a reminder of how important we all are to each other, near and far, known and known by association. Our existence affects more than just what and whom we know.
We are necessary.
I think about you. Be here. You are necessary.
Philip Newby. You were necessary.