A song of youth blew through the front door of my local pub last week and I said to the owner: Why? Before she answered me she seated them, tapped their beer, and tried on the proper expression befitting the occasion.
They were young; they were delightfully jubilant and probably tipsy. And they were grieving…
…the very recent suicide of a close friend. A twenty-two year old who made an early exit and surely broke hearts in his fall.
But why jubilant? Why beer?
“They are celebrating his life,” said Cindy, greeter at the Brooklyn Tavern. He loved beer, he loved his friends, and the times that were good. So they are honouring him.
The broken hearts lay idle; at least that is how I made sense of it, likely mingling fact with fancy. Their youth, in truth, shone through for me that day.
And, I concluded, their friend would have enjoyed this joy instead of the other–by other I mean that dour ceremony that scarce belongs with people this fresh.
They sipped and smiled and moved on, easing by invisible me at the bar thinking my middle-aged thoughts and pondering the now, the next, and the long ago.
I’m not sure how I would have wanted my friends to say goodbye to me when I was their age. Or when I am my age. Or when I am, if I am, much older. I like to think: sip and smile: send me off in an Irish wake; toast to what won’t be “heaven” (a consoling lie) but to what was life.