I am 16. I am at a party at Marina’s house. I am happily drunk and jumping high on a trampoline with a gaping hole near the middle. Her parents are out of town, and their place is encircled by the woods so it’s an ideal spot for what we’re looking for. Adam comes outside and sits on the edge of the frame, his body facing outward and his head toward me, starting the conversation by commenting on how cold the metal was on his leg. I listen to to him tell me stories about his life, which has been crazier than mine by miles. He has an understanding of the surroundings that I do not, and my bounce becomes a lazy series of hops as I consider this.
A few years later, it was just before noon. I was walking from my car to the MUN Education building, to my first class of the day. I felt my phone buzz it my pocket, but I had to tap the outside of my jeans with my left hand to make sure it wasn’t another phantom vibration. It wasn’t. The caller ID showed Jenn’s name, and I ignored the call assuming she just wanted to meet up. After a few seconds the vibrating began again and I took the call, either out of boredom or to decline. Lindsay was on the other end, and even though she was barely audible, I could make out an invitation to Jenn’s place. It sounded more like an order, but in a friendly way. I told her I was heading into school and I’d head over after. She insisted, and I could tell by her voice that something wasn’t right. It clicked to her that I understood the severity, and she said plainly, “Adam died last night.”
They’d gone out the night before, the two of them, Adam and James, splitting a Texas mickey full of Old Sam rum, my grandfather’s drink of choice. This ending was so far outside of the realm that it wouldn’t compute for quite some time. Marina was in Corner Brook and was told to fly home. They were close. Waiting for her to show up, waiting to tell her, gave the rest of us something else to focus on, instead of what had happened.
I wonder how many other conversations, long forgotten and deemed unimportant or irrelevant to me, would suddenly re-emerge as meaningful moments in my life if the person I was speaking to died.
I had grown up with death all around me, my large close-knit family making sure of that. But Adam was the first person to show me or any of us that we would not somehow evade mortality. Everybody seemed to have near-death experiences, stories told to entertain an audience, but his was the first of these that would never be relayed by the main character.
The smoke rose from his body as it disappeared, the former shell of a friend I used to know. As he returns to vapour, he acquires or absorbs more relationships, closer connections, for a strange satisfaction that will go unnoticed by those who create them. There is a need to be a part of tragedy, to be intertwined with suffering while emerging from the adverse situation undamaged and seemingly more secure with gained wisdom, still able to reflect on the relevant past with a clear head and an open mind. There is nobody left to deny your claims, and if you repeat it enough the truth will alter itself accordingly. There is no place for bitterness in death. Only understanding and constructive nostalgia will be accepted at this time.