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Memories on the fridge
One of my closest friends lost a childhood friend earlier this year. We were at an event a few weekends ago when he told a story about how his friend was a brilliant engineer, but he could never figure out how to play chess. He would get stomped every time. His friend was smart beyond measure, instrumental in building world-changing technology, and even owned numerous patents. But he would always somehow get crushed in that game.
After we all laughed, my friend looked down pensively and shared something he recently read, “They say that someone dies two times in their life. First when they reach the afterlife, and then the last time anyone ever mentions them.” His way of keeping him alive is by sharing these great memories. He proceeded to cheers a few people around him, and carried on with playing bags.
I’ve thought a lot about that since then. At first, I was inclined to think: “When will be the last time someone talks about me?” But the longer I thought about it, the less that actually mattered. I’d rather use that energy to also champion the memories of my loved ones.
I have a few poems posted on my fridge from the funerals of my friend’s father as well as my aunt, both over the last few years.
My friend’s father would make us fun snacks while we played video games late into the night and even let us watch Family Guy. He would make all of us kids laugh until our stomachs hurt. Even after I moved away from Jersey, he would incessantly find a way to make this inside joke about how I owed him money for who knows what. I remember when I introduced him to my girlfriend and he gave me shit for not visiting enough. It wasn’t in the way that made me feel like I was being served an obligation, it was with that sharp east coast attitude I loved, “I’m happy to hear you’re doing well and we love you, but you do not visit enough.”
I didn’t know my aunt terribly well, but she knitted damn near everyone in the family a quilt. Including me. I don’t know what ever became of that quilt, but according to my dad, I used it until it nearly disintegrated. I later learned that she would also actively create quilts for those in need in her free time. She was a beautiful woman inside and out who chose service for her community and family above other things.
Fairly recently, someone asked me why I had these poems from their funerals posted on the fridge. I didn’t have a good answer then.
It turns out I have just been making sure they were still alive.