A close friend of mine died today.

There is no right way to respond. I drift between a numbness seeking distraction and fighting off tears. Some of our friends will be angry. Some will weep. Some will let a darkness block the pain. Eventually I will do all these things but for now I write, because writing is how I process. I wish I could say I have some noble purpose in my writing but I don’t, it is selfishly for me because this is what I need.

Soon, probably tonight, I will drink. I will pour one out for Kaluza, the beer soaking into the soil is my prayer, my tears, my ceremony. It is one I have performed twice before for men I knew, men who died before they reached 30. Men who impacted my life and I loved. Inevitably my thoughts will drift to them, to Brad and Fifer as well.

Now though, I am a rock and I write. I am a rock because that is the role I am comfortable with. It is easier for raise a barrier and act as a foundation for others for a time. It won’t last though. After I drink the beers and the night grows silent I won’t be able to keep the wall up and my tears will fall. I will weep uncontrollably, pushing my masculinity, my military hardness, my image and ego, and every care I have aside. I will hold my partner close and she will help me bear this burden, a burden I wish I didn’t need to put on her. But I will need to, I will need to release to keep from going insane.

I don’t know if there is anything after this life. I hope there is, I want there to be, but I don’t know. If our spirit survives this mortal existence and we retain some sort of memories and identity I know Kaluza will be there. With that half grin and brightness in his eyes that make you feel special and loved. He inspired and will continue to. The memories I have with him I will cherish. The times he encouraged me to do what I loved instead of worrying about the risks will push me forward.

When the time comes and the tears dry up I will be able to make him immortal. I will live my life as he would have. I will be free and do what I can to inspire that in others… because above all things he was an inspiration. A never-ending source of joy, laughter, and reflection. In time we will all heal completely, we won’t forget but we will be changed. The scars never fade completely, but they help us truly enjoy the greatness and fragility of life. I told him how wonderful he was, I wish I would have told him more, because in a real sense I am the man I am today because of him.

I’ll miss you Kaluza, but I’ll keep your memory with me until I pass on as well. And when that day comes I will know I did great in this life if I have half the love shown for me that you do today. You made us all better.

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