You know what the world seemed like the next morning and the morning after that? It seemed shabby. It seemed inexcusably shabby. I felt so tired. All the colors had seeped out and gone somewhere. I think I thought: What the fuck? How can he die. He can’t die. He’s a tall, strong runner, and he has all those projects planned! Remember your magazine? Your film company? The Society of Jesus? That was some of my very American logic: a to-do list keeps you alive.
The day before your funeral Shawn asked if you and I had ever dated and I laughed. I remember the first time we met, over lunch at Hamburg Inn No. 2. We both knew a woman who was a human shield in Gaza, and she said we should be friends. I thought we’d flirt, or practice our special irony and knowing wit, or circle around each other like spies, because those were things I trucked in. But there was no flirting, no irony, no armor. You were disarmed. And you disarmed the people you met. I was eating a veggie burger with too much mustard. You were talking about what we owe each other, which is nothing less than everything. I was working my way through slightly soggy fries, and you were like the man that Plato posits: the one who contemplates the Good. You were like Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, joyfully defying the king, with the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual. You were like, Here I stand (in the Java House, in Prairie Lights), I can do no other.
After you died, I found two letters I’d written that I had not sent. I found an email about a trip to the cabin that never happened, and an email about you coming to Colorado to give a talk that never happened. I found the beeswax candle I meant to send to your mom. I asked you to forgive me. I wondered if you could see me. I felt like I needed to be better than I am.