"It is a scientific fact that hearts and clocks slow down as they approach the speed of light."
It's a goofy quote from a stupid television show, but I think it's a beautiful thought. Could it work the other way? If, as the heart slows down, the soul approaches the speed of light. Its a thought that gives me comfort and makes death feel less permanent.
Now, imagine that every person has a little light inside of them. It might be the soul. It might be neurons and synapses firing. I'm not smart enough to know for sure what it is... I don't think anyone is. The thing I do know is that about an hour ago, a beautiful soul approached the speed of light. His name was Jason.
When I got the news, I remembered fighting with him when we were young, particularly around the junior high age when all kids hit that smart ass stage that lasts too long. There were moments when I thought I never wanted to see him again, because we were so mean to each other. Its a wonder that any kid makes it past fourteen quite honestly. Everything is so dramatic.
I remembered his "hip-hop" phase which is kind of hilarious now considering he was such a skinny blond white kid. I remembered my mom driving the two of us to Red Lodge to buy my first mountain bike. I had saved for so long and for some reason he wanted to come along. On the way, we pulled into the Rockvale cafe, where we sat among old men in John Deere caps and cowboy hats while we ate our breakfast. Me in my sweats and Jason in a faux silk purple pants suit, matching tops and bottoms. I kid you not. Buttoned to the last button, adorned with a thick gold chain. Shiny shoes. I loved that confidence, "that dare to be different--just because I feel like it" attitude. I think he was twelve or thirteen at the time.
I remembered two summers ago... I think it was two. Eating lunch. The two of us, now adults, having a real conversation for the very first time. We talked about the things that hurt, the things we struggled with, the things and people we loved, and we both wondered how we actually survived. That's a story for another time. But I remember thinking how amazing it was... that we were both still standing. And that no matter how many times we got knocked down, we also got back up. I remember thinking that the odds against us as kids were nearly astronomical, but we made it. Not only did we make it, we did pretty damn well. Yes, we'd made some doozy decisions. And yes, we'd screwed up. But we'd also built a life. Each of us. He'd soon be marrying a kind-hearted and fiery redhead who he loved like crazy. I was still on my own, but almost always happy. At least content. We talked about letting go for the past, finding a quiet place to live--not outside, but inside ourselves. We laughed. A few days later, I took the pictures at their wedding.
And I remembered the wedding. Certainly not traditional. That's why it was beautiful. Two people, in jeans and t-shirts, standing in the middle of my grandma's big back yard, each telling the other "I love you". And I remembered his ring. An enormous silver skull. Definitely not traditional. But beautiful because it fit him, not just his finger. I remember looking at their hands in my camera's viewfinder. Her hand resting on his. Their crazy rings saying very clearly, we are individuals, but we are together. From that skinny blonde in purple silk to a strong, tall man in a crisp white t-shirt and tattoo sleeves and a skull ring and a beautiful wife. His Great Dane Grimm, the best man in the affair... well, he shared that job with my grandma, actually.
And I remembered getting the picture of him holding his newborn son. A tiny little baby in a crazy blue fuzzy beanie. I remembered how in love he was with that tiny bundle. A boy. Another little light in the world. His name was Acen. I realized today that the name was actually a combination of the names of his parents. I'm not sure why I didn't get that before. Their DNA, their love and their names with him forever.
And then I remembered a tiny toe-headed boy. Mind like a sponge, in fact he learned the expletive alphabet way before I did. And he loved flowers. We had that in common. He loved being in the garden with my grandma. He loved pansies most of all. He thought they looked like little faces, and he told me his favorites were the purple and yellow ones. But, he couldn't pronounce yellow. Instead, he said OOWA, and he called me Yori. From that day on, I could imagine the pansies dancing... Just dancing and laughing every time no one was looking.. I could tell sometimes, when he was staring at a thicket of itsy bitsy pansies, that he was just waiting for them to say something. I could see it in his face, holding his breath with wonder. Waiting. I wish I would've asked him if they ever said anything. Wouldn't that have been something?
And the little boy, the fearless purple tween, the tattooed adult... now a light that seems so very far away. Like so many people we love, gone far too soon. Most of you probably didn't experience his warmth or his twinkle, but you will have that chance now.We all will.
Because "Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy."