It's 1:00 am on 9/11. I'm lying on the couch watching our beloved Mets play the fucking Braves. I've got ice packs on my neck and back. And due to a couple of herniated discs in my neck, I'm hopped up on Percocet, muscle relaxants, and a vodka martini. In short, I'm a fucking mess.
Man, getting old sucks.
You always were my favorite hypochondriac so I guess it's only appropriate that I'm complaining to you on the 14th anniversary of your passing. Oy to the fucking vey, my friend. If I can't complain to you, who can I complain to?
Remember when you were convinced that the bump on your head from basketball was causing memory loss? Or that time you passed out on the subway the morning after we partied all night at the VMA Awards and you were certain that you'd been poisoned? And how many times did you call Dr. Paul about some mysterious skin blotch that was sure to be the sign of something serious?
Just thinking about it brings a huge smile to my face. Man, we used to love winding you up and then calming you down. After Paul would sigh and tell you that it was just a zit, we'd laugh our asses off and tell you to stay off the internet. We'd have to remind you that WebMD was like a choose-your-own-adventure where the ending is always cancer.
I still think about you all the time, brother. Strangely, instead of reminiscing about our past life together, I find myself pondering what your life would be like now. I wonder why I do that. Does it have to do with my own feelings about getting older? A sign of my growing fears of mortality? Morbid curiosity?
Would you be married with kids? Or would you and Kyle still be living together uptown? Would you have continued working in finance at Cantor Fitzgerald? Or would you be working on that screenplay? Would you still call me every morning right when you got to the office? Or would we only text sporadically to check in with one another? Just thinking about that possibility makes me sad.
Who knows? Maybe your life would have gone in a completely different direction altogether and we would have drifted apart. You were so young when you passed that the world before you was still open with so many possibilities.
I like to think that you would be as much a part of my life now as you always had been.
Over the past year, I've attended funerals memorializing the deaths of many of our friends' parents. And while I grieve for our friends' losses, I always find myself thinking about you at those funerals. As the father of three daughters, I find myself crying not about the loss of a friend's parents, but instead, over the sad and unnatural tragedy of a parent outliving one's child.
In a strange way, that's how I feel about losing you.
Fourteen years (and a few Percocets later), I'm still as confused as always in my feelings about grieving you. I don't want to canonize your life or oversentimentalize your death. Yet I want to revel in it. I want to feel the pain, the loss, the suffering. I want to remember every detail of our life together.
More than anything, I don't want to forget. What you meant to me. How much you were a part of my life. And how I miss you now as much as I did 14 years ago.
Surprisingly, I'm not angry. I've never been angry about losing you. Maybe being angry helps some people but, as a Korean Scorpio, I think I've got enough anger in my life. Instead, I just continue to grieve.
Maybe there should be a statute of limitations on grief. A rule that says it is all right to wake up crying on 9/11, but only for a day. But the reality is that you grieve forever. You never ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you learn to live with it. You heal and you try to rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. Whatever happens to you, the loss is always there. It's a part of you. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you ever want to be.
Every year when I write this letter to you, I find myself wondering what I want to say to you. In the past, I think I've been overwhelmed by feelings of grief, sorrow, depression, and loss. But I think this year, instead of grieving, I'm going to choose the path of gratitude.
Thanks for being such an amazing friend, Andy. Thanks for being a light that shined up my life. Thanks for being one of the few people on the planet who could always brighten my day. I'm honored and blessed to have had you in my life.
I miss and love you, Andy. I really do. And I always will. Now, forever, and always. You're the best friend a guy could have ever hoped for.
All the best,
Andrew Golkin, 1970-2001
P.S. The Mets won.