One of my best friends died three months ago in a tragic motorcycle accident. Last night I met with his Mother for dinner. I hadn’t seen her since a few weeks after Corey’s passing. We talked for hours, about everything, and I apologized for not being around more; I was struggling with my own demons. You see- Corey and I were best friends for many years. I also disagreed with a lot of things that he did. I loved him irrefutably and yet I fought with him tooth and nail over certain situations. He was a charismatic, highly intelligent, wonderfully gifted, absolutely hilarious, giving, caring, loyal… stubborn, obstinate, *slightly* irresponsible hell raiser who could make me madder than a hornet. And the last time that I saw or spoke to Corey alive, we’d had a real fight. It lasted for several days. Hurtful things were said. And strings of communication were eventually cut. We hadn’t spoken for one year when he died.
That’s a type of poisonous guilt you can’t do anything with. Was I wrong? Was I too stubborn? Was I short sighted? Did Corey die not knowing how much I really loved and believed in him? But at the same time, I meant the things I said when we fought, and I stand by my convictions. Corey has died… and I am stuck here in limbo with an internal conflict I will never get to resolve. It tore me apart to sit there with his Mom and wonder if he could be looking down at us, would he be angry for my presence? Am I offending his memory? Do I deserve to be called his best friend? Did he die… hating me?
Feeling selfish and childish, my eyes brimmed with tears and I tried to change the subject. It was at this point that Corey’s Mom changed her posture and looked at me in the eyes. Shoulders squared and set back with both of her hands clasped together on the table in front of me, she told me that he loved me. That I was his best friend. That she loved me. And that she’d known that I loved him. Other words were exchanged, but ultimately one thing was responsible for comforting me: Corey’ Mom told me of a theory called Final Review, or, Life Review.
Final Review is said to be the “life flashing before your eyes” moment that near death experiencers report. There are literally thousands of these reports. From all over the world. From all different ages, races, and socio economic statuses. Whatever we perceive time to be… is subjective. The individual facing a Final Review has their entire life played back in front of them in an incomprehensibly short period of time. And they are not being judged by any other power or being, they are being judged… by themselves. In this review, they see all the moments of their lives in front of them. They see how they felt during those moments. But they also see and feel how the other party/parties felt in those moments. All the good, all the bad. Immaterial concerns are lost and understanding and compassion escort out any negative remainders.
Corey saw everything before he made his final departure. It is only a theory, there can be no proof of this event. And this theory can only hold weight if you choose to believe in it. But what else should I choose to believe in? I have to believe that the ones we love know that we love them, in the end. I can think of nothing more fulfilling and peaceful. I can think of no greater bliss.
I have some of his raggedy old t-shirts, letters and post cards, a tiny urn of his ashes. Skate board junk, music influences, Miata parts. Car decals, street lingo, sour patch kids and mountain dew. I have some of his self respect, self confidence, and love. And Corey will forever have my love, too.
I wrote this for myself. It’s a small means of closure. And I wrote this because maybe someone else has struggled the same way, and maybe they’ll read this. Guilt is a useless emotion. In the end, it’s all about the love.