Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color

Grieving for Danny

Danny died a couple of weeks ago.He’s gone, forever. Dead, dead, dead.
Photo of Danny I say the word, and tears well up, but I don’t understand why. I don’t understand this word, “dead.” What does it mean? I want to know why such a word can make me cry. I want to understand.
“Demise” is like “death,” merely a word, empty. “Passed away” makes more sense. People pass each other on the street. But who did Danny pass? Did he pass me without my noticing? And where is “away?” When people go away, it means that we can visit, that they can come back.
But when Yonatan, Danny’s brother, told me that Danny passed away, he meant forever. That he’ll never come back. No more chats via Facebook, no more  Skyping, no more shared stories about our past, our childhood, the sleepovers, high school. No more morbid humor about his cancer, about our damaged brains.
Is that why I grieve? Because I miss our conversations, our banter, our philosophical explorations? No, that can’t be the reason for my tears. I don’t respond emotionally to the past like I used to before the bloody brain. The connection between my episodic memory and my emotional memory was damaged by the brain surgeries. Memories of facts usually don’t evoke emotions, they’re detached, often lifeless.
So why do I tear up when I see photos, when I speak of him, when his name comes up in conversations? Danny is no more, he is but a memory, a collection of abstract memories, of detached episodic memories.
I shouldn’t be crying over him now that he’s become intangible.
Since the brain surgeries, abstract notions are even more abstract, intangible. My connection to the future is tenuous at best. I try to pack more than a couple of hours ahead of trips. But usually to me, planning and packing for a trip is merely a game of pretend. Occasionally, I’m not in the mood for pretending and I find myself scrambling to pack my bags at the last minute. In all but rare cases, virtual trips becomes real only when I reach my destination, when it becomes part of the here and now.
My relationship with Danny over the past few months was based mainly on our virtual connection, our online conversations. Danny was real to me when we chatted or when I saw his face on Skype. Otherwise, which was most of the time, he didn’t really exist in my mind, he was intangible, but a memory.
I loved Danny. I loved connecting with him, making him tangible. I loved our verbal exchanges. And like those intangible, future trips, I wanted him to become real; I made it a ritual to check if he was online as soon as I logged on, whenever I logged on.
Every so often, as I type, without thinking, I check once more to see if he’s online, then again, and again. He’s supposed to be there, so that I can Skype with him. But he isn’t and he never will be. I shouldn’t be upset. He shouldn’t be a part of my reality unless he is in the moment. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand.
I don’t understand why the tears keep welling up.