You have to be able to be human. You have to be able to fuck up, and know that you’ll be forgiven. You have to know that you can be who you are, and that those who love you will do so without restriction. You have to be able to make your own way, even if it isn’t the way they imagined for you. You have to know that no matter how far you have to go, that you can always make your way back. I don’t think you can love someone you fear. Not really. Not all the way. And I don’t think you can love someone who can’t see you for who you are. Not all the way.
He looks like he hasn’t slept, like he’s in his early 40’s, like he’s resigned, like he’s surrendered. “I need to ask you to write something.”
“Seriously?” I’m surprised. He’s a writer. He’s not one that would ever look for a ghost. The waitress leaves my earl grey and walks away.
He pulls a piece of paper from his pocket and slides it across the table to me. He clears his throat. It’s as if he can’t speak about it just yet. He’s trying, but it’s not ready to come out yet. I read over the paper. Facts, and bio information. Name, place of birth. Date of birth, date of death.
– “What are you asking me to write?”
– “My father’s eulogy.” He stares downward, into his coffee.
There’s a silence that doesn’t bend. There’s a sadness that can’t breathe. There’s a crack in the Earth that knows no soul.
– “By when do you need this.” I know this crack in the Earth. I’ve been here. I know this crack.
– “Funeral is tomorrow at 3pm.” He pushes the coffee cup away and says, “I’ve been trying to write something for this, for two days. I’ve never had this happen before. I can write anything. But I just can’t hit this.”
I believe him. And I believe I understand. I fold the paper in half and put it away.”Tell me how old you were when it changed.”
He shrugs. “When what changed?”
“When it stopped being unconditional.”
He thinks. He sighs, and he looks away. He knows exactly what I’m talking about. He knows the moment. When something broke. “I was 16. He found out I was gay, when I was 16.”
The only thing that’s different with this is the deadline. He hasn’t finished processing the storm. He’s still out at sea. He hasn’t washed up on the shore yet. He has fallen into this crack in the Earth, but he hasn’t clawed his way out yet. I drive. I sink back into it. It’s years, but it’s a moment ago. It’s over, but it will never be behind me. It’s healed, but it can’t ever really mend. It’s a crack in the world I can find without effort. Different reasons, different people. But the reasons and the people don’t matter.
“I got your email.” He sounds relieved and upset at the same time.
I cradle the phone between my ear and the pillow. This is important. This matters.
– “Will it work?”
– “Yeah. It’s exactly,… it’s…” He sighs. “How did you come up with this?”
Because I had already done all of the research. I had already been loved with conditions, and dismissed without them. I had already clawed my way out of that crack in the Earth. Some people can’t find peace here. They can’t feel the warmth in the sunshine, and just be glad you’re you. All the happiness I really wish I could have brought to you, all the happiness I wish we had shared, all the happiness I wanted you to have in your life, and in your heart; I hope you can feel that happiness now, wherever you are.