The task is complete and the room is done. What a job that was. Unfortunately, coward that I am, I saved the most difficult stuff for last. And it was hard. We had seven photo boards on display at Kevin’s funeral. Covered with pictures, rich with memories. After the funeral they had leaned against the wall in that little room. For the first few months after he died every now and then I would take one of the boards out and run my fingers over the pictures, trying to remember and feel him again. Silly thing but it was an unconscious need on my part.
I was always the ‘touchy’ one in our relationship, and Kevin didn’t mind that at all. He’d sit beside me and I’d rub his shoulders or hands or even his feet. He’d go very still, afraid that if he moved I’d stop. If one of our cats jumped up on the couch with us he’d know it was game over, I’d start patting the cat. Kevin did alright though. So perhaps that’s why I felt the need to touch those pictures, because that’s what I do.
They were the last, but the biggest, hurdle in that room. Seven boards with 20 to 30 photos on each one. I sat there and peeled those pictures off the mounting boards and cried the whole time. It couldn’t be hurried, each one needed to be looked at before it went away. It was, after all, my life too in each of those images; a way of living that died when he did.
One of the toughest realizations that has come out of Kevin’s death has to do with the extent of the impact on the family. For those who had him as a friend, you mourn his loss, perhaps profoundly, but the exposure and interaction with him was different – not constant. For me, and the family, that loss is boundless – that day the light in our lives dimmed, and part of us retreated to the shadows.
I think about that statement, ‘larger than life.’ I’ve pondered over it more than once since Kevin died. If anyone earned it, it was him. He loved life and while he was here he lived it large. Those photo boards were a testimony to that. They also were a painful reminder of how quickly life can change.