When Judy Garland had a cold, she'd sing, "Zig went the strings of my heart!"
The next evening we drove out to NJ, to his parents' house. It was the first of several drives over the next few days that I dreaded having to make. Every step up the driveway was filled with dread, not wanting to enter that house. At the top of the driveway sat his pickup truck. Never has the sight of a simple, empty truck ever been so striking.
I opened the door and his older brother embraced me, crying, saying how much fun my friend had had talking about going to wrestling matches with me. In the year or two before he died, we started to go to WWF events at the Garden. It was all silly fun. I mean, we weren't like crazy into wrestling or anything, or took it seriously thinking it was "real," but it was great entertainment — not just the matches but the whole experience of going (there's more to this, but I'm not ready to write about it here. Even though that's a douchey thing to say, I can't let this go by without mentioning that there is something else gnawing at me. Something I still feel great guilt over. It's something I've only ever discussed with one other person, and I'm not ready to get into it just yet. We now return you to your regular friend suicide remembrance programming). I think that was the first moment I realized that there would be no future memories to be made with my friend.
Every time I'd think of some experience I had with him in that time right after he died, it was like discovering a gem in the dirt.
Oh yeah! Remember the time we did that?
And with each little discovery came this great feeling of joy, another memory for me to hold on to. Yet when reflected upon again, the gem didn't shine as brightly. It's like getting your family vacation pictures back from the drugstore a week after you've come home. With every picture you flip through there's that, "oh yeah!" sensation, but it's never fully recaptured when you look at it subsequently. I think I just used two different metaphors to say the same thing.
The only other memory of that night I have was being in the kitchen and humming The Price Is Right theme song along with another friend, while his father sat close-eyed in a chair in front of a TV that was just providing a background wash, all the while resting his forehead in his propped up hand.
Sixteen years is an odd span of time. It seems so long ago, but it wasn't, really. It's in that place between just yesterday and way back when.