Twenty-five years ago today may have been the most significant pivot point in my world. That moment just may have determined the outcome of the rest of my life.
You see, it wasn’t even my moment. It
wasn’t my choice. I had nothing to do with it and there was absolutely nothing
I could have done to change it (it took a great deal of therapy to arrive at
this statement). Shawn shot himself. He picked up a gun and shot himself. From
what I remember, he had been putting on his shoes.
Years ago I read a study about memory. The
researchers argued that humans only have the ability to actually recall about
15 years. Anything that we *remember* beyond that point is actually the memory
of a retelling. I don’t remember the study; I don’t remember the researchers.
Memory fades. That’s kind of the point. Some things stick with us and some
things are gently lost to time. If the study is correct, I’m only remembering
the memories that I have fabricated of Shawn, the retellings of my story of him.
I think I can remember the feel of his hair;
if I close my eyes, I can almost hear his laugh. I certainly can still make out
the features of his face. I remember how he used laughter to cover pain. I
remember how he used his guitar to cover every other possible emotion. I
remember specific events… like when a guy I liked was late to a football game,
he walked a good half mile to a payphone to try to figure out where he was.
If the universe had given me just a few more
years, I would have loved him fiercely. We would have always remained friends.
Gah! I had known him since preschool. He chased me in the playground before I
was even in school. He would have had his own kids. I would have seen him for
the holidays and I would have always been different. I might not have learned
to love deeply, to hug friends, to say “I love you” and mean it; I might have
ended up wearing yellow (ha ha ha yeah, I doubt it). I’m pretty sure everything
would have been different… better? *shrug* Who knows.
What happened is
that time is now measured by befores and afters. But each year we wear our
*Shawn socks*. His family was of a religion that didn’t celebrate holidays but
we gave him presents anyway and he loved it. One year a friend gave him black
socks with white polka dots. He wore those damn socks almost daily. In fact, he
was buried wearing them. On this day my friends and I wear polka dot socks to
commemorate the day and maybe feel a little bit closer to him.