Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Geography of Loss: Losing Brian

Brian Rucker, 1964-2012
Rest In Peace

My heart's a great black hole.

I never knew what they meant by the weight of grief until now - an ache pressing so heavily against your chest it feels as if something has to burst from the pain of it, both physical and mental.

The last few days have been chaos. Unstable. One minute I'm all right and the next, something triggers a wash of memory so strong the tears come and don't stop.

The night I heard you'd died everything stopped as if time slowed down, as if thought were in slow motion. 16th April. Last weekend. How is that possible, Purry? We were just chatting on Facebook, posting memories from Virginia Beach and Sci Con only a month, month and a half back. How can you be gone, just like that? If Wes hadn't posted the news, I'd never have found out. None of us from Amber or your beloved game forums would even have known. None of us were expecting to lose you so suddenly.

We were supposed to grow old and cranky together, kvetch about the state of life, tease each other about our perpetual single status and figure we were too set in our ways to be any different. You talked about going to San Diego Comic Con this year. You were happy, damn it all, after Mysticon - you'd come home again to your first love of gaming and conventions and the crazy days of being young.

Today is Day Three of trying to make sense of all of this. And I can't. I still can't accept that you're gone, that I'll never hear you laugh at me any more, that I won't be visiting you in your apartment or watch the river under the bridge with you again. We'd only just reconnected last year. How could you just slip away without even a farewell?

We had our ups and downs, we had our disagreements, but you were important to me. You represent the happiest times of my grad school days, when things didn't make any more sense than now, but you tried to get me through them anyway. Cooking in your kitchen, learning how to skin a chicken, you laughing because you had no idea how to help me, both of us playing host to Courtney and Dan and Sis. Dan and Sis waking you up at 4am to tell you they were running through sprinklers in DC. Me waking you up one of your visits to my place, and wondering why my neighbour was moving furniture at about 2am and you going, "...That's not furniture, that's bed springs..." and laughing at my half an hour of snarky, sleepy diatribe.

I don't know if I ever told you how important you were to me, how glad I was to have you as a friend. I can only hope I showed it, but I wish that I could have said it too. Said it so that it would be set in stone, so that you could have heard it and been glad.

Funny how the years amplify things. All that time apart, just barely reconnected for a year, and I miss you so much. Perhaps it's the unexpectedness of losing you, that makes your absence so acute it's a fierce, almost physical presence. I want to reach out, grab hold of you in a drunken sort of desperation, shake you, tell you how much you've changed my life in so many good ways, how much I owe you. I need you to hear, I need you to know, to have some closure.

You were always such a proponent of supporting the local music scene, and I think that you would have liked to hear my youth chamber, that you would be pleased that I'm going out into the independent music scene too with my quartet. You were already so happy to hear I was singing now - 'Singing Purry', you called me.

My chamber sang 'Imagine' today, and I thought of you - your passion for fair politics and justice for the deserving. You would have been thrilled to know about the Bersih Rally here today, and that I was supporting it wholeheartedly.

I know I will never have a chance to say goodbye, good night, not in person, ever again. I don't know if you can see me writing this, or if you'd ever think that I would cry over you. Well, you tall skinny stubborn diamond-in-the-rough doofus, I am. I am right now, remembering your voice, hearing past conversations in my mind, and the ache in my throat is so strong I might choke.

I would give anything just to hug you one more time, hold you, tease you about being so thin I could break you in two, one more chance to tell you just how much you mean to me. I miss you, I love you for being my friend, I'm thankful for the privilege of having gotten to know you and do life with you, even though it was far, far too short a time.

As the song says, 'Good night sweetheart, good night.' Good night, Brian Rucker - my sanity, my partner-in-crime-and-craziness, my dear friend - good night.