Karen Rivers

the wages of dying is love.

Karen Rivers

Sometimes there is a sadness so unbearable, that the world seems to stand still and shiver for a minute before resuming its normal programming of summer parties and blue skies freckled with white clouds; bike camp and wading pools.  

Someone I didn't know, an eighteen year old boy, died on Thursday morning in a single-vehicle accident on a road I have never seen.  I stop.  I think about the words "single-vehicle accident" and how they make it seem like news, and not something real.   I start again.

Someone I didn't know, an eighteen year old boy, died in his car on the road to his house.  The boy was one of my nephew's best friends.   He just graduated from highschool.   His whole life was out there in front of him mapped out in a way he couldn't quite see yet, shimmering like the heat over a long black-topped road.  

And then it wasn't.  

I am so sorry.   I am so sorry for his family, for his mother especially -- for some reason, I keep imagining the call she got, or the police visit, or however the news was delivered -- and I stick there on that.  I think of boys and their gangly limbs as they slowly grow into themselves and how they always look to me like the babies they so recently were, hidden in the shadow cast by the man they are about to become.   

I can't stop thinking about this boy and my nephew's sadness and everyone's sadness.  The radio says there is a ball game and someone laughs, and for a minute I am taken aback, like, how can anyone be laughing in this terrible world?  It's like that.

Everyone is sad.

I'm sad.  And a part of me thinks, "Snap out of it.  It is not your sadness to have."   But I AM sad, sad about so many things, and the boy being dead is the saddest of the things I know right now.

I took the kids to bike camp and pretended to not be so sad and off they went, dressed like superheroes.   And at the end of the day, The Bun emerged, riding his bike like he'd been doing it forever, big circles around the playground for hours and hours until finally he crashed, tearing the skin from his elbow on the tarmac.

"Road burn," I told him and he loved the word, showing everyone, "Road burn," he said again and again, proudly showing his Dad on Skype, his scar from this day when he crossed another milestone on his path to growing up, the training wheels heaped up now in the garage with the rest of the detritus of the babyhood he is so quickly leaving behind.  

And I think, because I'm given to worry, "What if."  I think in a way that would be a prayer if I prayed, "Please."     I make bargains with all the uncontrollable fates.   For that, anything.  Whatever you want from me, I'll do.  But please, let him be a grown up one day.

And I cry some more for the mother of the boy I didn't know, who won't.