I buried a friend this week. I didn't put him down into the ground, but rather down into my head. He saw himself being destroyed by the world and in a final act of resilience and clarity, he destroyed himself before anyone else could take the credit. He put it all on his shoulders, as he had done his whole life, the way the downtrodden face their lot with a smile. A thousand million contagious smiles, and all that's left is an ashy urn, and us. But he went his way, and I love him for that.
I put him deep down there in my thoughts, down under all that dirt that's accumulated in the foggy corners. Not out of suppression, not for fear that the vacancy will never be filled, or for the shame we carry in unsaid words;
I buried him in my head so that he might pop up from time to time, as all the best revelations do, in waking or middream, just when you need them. God forbid his spirit languishes on in nothing but a dusty prayer card, as if Mickey Mantle were alive and well through the miraculous intervention of the Topps Company, Inc.
I don't mock the conventional mourning. Being brought up Irish-Catholic, I know the importance of the wailing and bagpipes, and I wouldn't hope for less when I myself go. But that's not what he wanted.
He wanted laughter, and goddamn if he won't get it from me. Because he knew the score. His was a soul down 12-2, in a ninth inning that went on for ages, and there he was, swinging for the fence.
And so, in a cheap black suit with a cheap shot of whiskey, in a bar he would never in his life wish to patronize, I buried my friend, knowing full well that as long as we dream, he'll never be truly gone.