Brown hair, blue eyes, 6’1 average build. When you are asked to describe someone it typically will read something like that. Straight hair, visible tattoos, is this giving anyone an idea of who I am?
When someone passes, you don’t hear anything like that, instead you hear about the person. He was funny, smart, the life of the party, you hear people crying as you glance around. There is noise, people talking about the one that you lost, stories of how they got their tie caught in the door on their first day of work, the bright blue ruined by a large black streak.
There are people laughing, people crying, people whispering and people screaming. But still, there is silence. A overwhelming feeling, no matter how loud the noise has become, that at any given moment you would clearly hear a pin drop across the room.
When my Uncle passed, I could not separate the fact that it was too loud in the tiny room, his coffin at the front, open, with the feeling that it was still too silent. It was almost as if the air had left the room and there was no way for sound to travel. I could hear everything, but heard nothing.
After the open viewing, then came the funeral. As a pallbearer in my uniform, I had a sense of honor, but at the same time horror that I would have a hand in putting the man I loved into the ground.
‘Get your hands out of your pockets.’ It was how my brother remembered him, always telling us to take our hands out of our pockets. A good father, a son, a brother, he was a good man.
All too soon, he was set above the freshly dug grave, the cut grass smell brought on warm feelings of spring or summer and slightly dulled the cold grip of his passing. As he was lowered the priest spoke, but no words came out. At least none that I can remember, for me, it was all too silent.
After that day I was left with the realization that I never got to know the man. I knew him, but only in the way you know your roommate that you never took the time to talk with.
A million questions flooded my mind: What did he do? Where did he grow up? What was his favorite food? Was he still in that much pain? If so how did he deal with it so well?
I slowly came to realize that, when you took away all the generic fluff, I would be left with a cautionary word of advice that my Uncle gave me, when I mistook his last girlfriend for his old one, ‘Gabriel, you don’t mention ex’s’. One that I would proudly pass on to my brother when he made a similar mistake later that day.
After that story I would be left with nothing more than a description. Dark brown graying hair, mustache, Hispanic, 6’1, average build, non smoker, no identifying marks.
There are times where I want to pick up the phone, call him and ask every question I ever had, ones that I had saved for him when I ‘made it big’ and could buy him something spectacular; a house or a car, just to say thanks for caring about me.
Instead I am left with silence. Since those are the only words he can say.