You'd think that after 50 years I might have mastered the art of handling this information, that it would be an old scar never thought about. You'd be wrong. I called a priest friend in Wales this morning to ask him to remember Wayne in his prayers today. My voice broke and the old pain surged up like a giant Jersey Shore wave that knocked me over and left me sputtering.
Wayne would be 72, which I cannot picture at all. Would he be gray? Bald? Would he be married and have kids? What would life be like to still have a big brother as I approach 65? It's the missing tooth that you forever seek with your tongue. You poke and prod and constantly seek out that space, and although it has become part of who you are, it's never totally accepted, never comfortable.
There have been a great many deaths of people I've loved, and still love, since then. Family and friends (who have been more "Family By Choice" or "FBC" as I call them). I've gone through the stages of shock and the physical heaviness that grief brings, wearing it like a coat of lead. I've gone through the guilt of having happy days without them. I've learned that learning how to have happy days is exactly what we're supposed to do. Still every now and then a song, a smell, a date on the calendar, will rip off the old scab and set the wound bleeding again. And that's OK. That means these people are still with me, still in my heart, still matter, are still loved.
I guess I don't want to stop hurting. I can't, won't and don't want to forget any of them and how they have been threads in the tapestry that is my life. And if there are bare patches where these threads are missing, I guess that gives me an opportunity to glimpse what is on the other side.
Rest in peace, Wayne, but more than that, rest in joy. Until we meet up again.