Andy died. I received the news over the phone. I had asked accusingly, “Why would you tell me this over the phone?” But as soon as the words left me, I realized how ridiculous they were. What I wanted was some kind of warning before the delivery of such news, something to soften the blow. Better yet, I would have preferred to not receive this news at all.
It sounded like a cruel joke. My face frozen in a grimace, I wanted to laugh at how ridiculous it was. When I opened my mouth to let the laughter escape, there was only silence. And a sudden desire to cry, but I found no tears. My body was failing me in my emotional responses.
The white of my desk seemed whiter and there was a slight ringing in my ears. I repeated the news to my coworker as he walked me to BART, saying it out loud made me want to laugh again. What kind of world was this? I had left the real one and stepped into an alternative universe where death was as palpable as the ground beneath my feet.
I walked home in a daze; my mind was completely blank. I was shaking and putting one foot in front of the other was an exhausting chore. When I opened the door of my apartment, Andy was there waiting for me. I saw his lanky figure leaning against my dining room table, the usual smirk on his face. He didn’t say much, except for an occasional comment on the documentary I was watching. He smiled a lot, he always did. It sent a chill through my body. I didn’t know if I wanted to tell him to sit or leave.
I fell asleep on the couch halfway through the documentary. I woke up feeling all the emotions I couldn’t feel before; my body flooded with pain. Andy sat in my chair, watching me silently, smiling. I called a couple of friends but no one was available. There are a lot of things that I’ve gotten used to doing alone over the years, but mourning was not one of them. And I never imagined that I’d have to mourn alone.
My insides were knotted too tightly for me to have a proper dinner, and when I went to bed that night, Andy sat in bed next to me. I hated the loneliness that accompanied that night; it was a dark cloud that engulfed me, isolating me from the rest of the world. I wanted to be held, any kind of physical contact with a real human being would’ve sufficed. I wanted someone with flesh and blood to be there with me in my apartment, not Andy. I didn’t get much sleep that night. In the morning, I felt even more tired than the night before.
I felt greatly inconvenienced by this grief. I did not have the patience or time for it. It debilitated me in facing the most mundane tasks. I watched life pass by me at its usual speed and couldn’t find the energy to keep up with it. How much longer would I feel this way? Even with an ever-growing to-do list, I couldn’t resist the urge to take a nap.
I felt angry at Andy, at his roommate, at myself, at my friend Chris who told me I looked hung over on Sunday, at Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her five stages of grief theory, how dare she try to streamline this process! “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry was stuck in my head and I found it exceedingly annoying. How much longer is this grief going to last?!
Then I realized, this is and will always be the reality: Andy is dead. For the rest of my life, I’ll be living in a world without Andy. Life will never go back to the way it was. This loss will always stay with me, sneaking up on me at the most unexpected moments. Every time I see our mutual friends, I will be reminded of Andy and his absence. Every New Year’s Eve, I will miss Andy. This is the world I live in now.