The death of a friend carves a cruel path of mild destruction. It’s not the full-on ransacking that comes with the loss of one with whom you share blood and DNA. But it’s pretty damn bad.
The internal inventory feels entirely too skewed to the first-person. I wish I could have visited, I wish I had gotten that care package out in time. These thoughts aren’t inherently selfish, but somehow it feels that way.
Then there is the technological archiving and excavation process. I can’t bear the thought of deleting e-mails and texts. But do I need to keep her phone number? Am I pissing on the grave if I free up a little Random Access Memory that will never be used again?
With the end, present tense turns to past tense. She would love this song! necessarily becomes she would have loved this song!. A slight hiccup of thought, and a 180 degree turn of direction.
The hell of it all is that I never actually met Turquoise Taylor Grant, who left us peacefully Tuesday morning, at the age of 45, in Ventura, CA after a two-year battle with liver cancer. But because we have many mutual friends across the various sub-sets of my life, we met online and became close.
My wife spent a weekend in San Jose with The Turq in a subset of online friends.
My friend Lynette shared an Acme Theater stage with The Turq and my late friend Mikey Dee, in my Boston rock subset, long before I met any of the above.
Eventually one is always six-degrees away from someone, and I was fortunate to be six-degrees or less from Turquoise on many levels.
Watching her battle the tumors from 3,000 miles was difficult. I often felt like Washington Roebling, bedridden with caissons disease, supervising the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge by telescope from his apartment window. I wanted to BE there. (And back we go to that first-person survivors guilt: I wish I could have done more. Um, what could I “do”, being 3,000 miles away and, oh-by-the-way, not a cancer specialist?)
But this is the wonder of technology and friendship: I was able to be there, via binary stream, with a laugh and a bit of encouragement. Not much, but not bad. (And she made two years. Not a bad ass-kicking of the original prognosis.)
And I’ll always have our collaborations-to-be. Once we were reminiscing about the TCBY frozen yogurt stand at the Downtown Crossing subway station in Boston, and how it always smelled of urine. This lead to one of us ordering a Piss-tachio cone, and this became the name of the band we were going to form. Our first album would be titled Urine This Too!. The Turq had some pipes, and our set-list was entirely of her choosing: Deep Purple’s “Hush”, Al Wilson’s “Show And Tell” and Heart’s “Barracuda”. I believe velvet pants and pimp hats may have been involved.
Or the New Year’s Eve morning when we started tossing Maine dialect back-and-forth phonetically, and by the time I left the office we had the beginning of a play about a young kid working in a textile mill with a pregnant girlfriend and another pregnant girlfriend.
This is the detritus of a life ended far too early. I am forever touched by what we had, but in the early aftermath I can’t get over the feeling of being cheated. All the world (and I) cheated of her smile and spirit. All the world (and I) cheated of present tense and future shenanigans.
I never met Turquoise Taylor Grant, but she touched my spirit deeply, and I am numb and depleted from her physical loss. A mild ransacking, but nevertheless.