We are sitting together on the couch and we are not paying attention to one another. We are both tired and need some time to unwind and let the stress of the day dissipate. I am reading a fluff piece and you are scrolling down our feed as we actively turn our brains off.
You suddenly gasp and I feel your body tense up as you raise your head and turn to face me. I feel a constriction in my throat because I know you are about tell me something horrible.
He’s dead, you say. Geoff is dead.
I turn to you and my eyes well up and I shake my head because I don’t think it can be true. Your eyes have filled with a pain too big to handle. My hand trembles as I reach for yours and we hold each other at a distance.
Our pain is too hard to face. We turn back into ourselves and we try to live another day.
It takes us until morning to hurtle back into each other’s arms. We interlock our fingers and we gaze at each other’s pain.
You speak first.
He took the Brooklyn out of me, you say, as the tears break through and pour down your face. He let me be me.
I squeeze your hand and I am transported back in time and I remember the boy from Brooklyn I met on the streets of Jerusalem. I remember how you walked inside your cage and surrounded yourself with the kinds of people who helped you blend in.
And then you met Geoff. Geoffrey with a G.
Geoff was a rock n’ rolling artist who didn’t care what the world thought of him. Geoff wore little ties and suspenders and had swagger long before people thought that was cool. Geoff sat for hours in his room with that boy from Brooklyn and talked about Star Wars and superheroes and punk rock. Geoff painted and the music blared and the layers of New York street slowly shed as the boy who loved music and thought deeply about the world with a sensitive, kind view was revealed.
I saw how you changed and I fell in love with the person you had been hiding away. Without understanding what he had done, Geoff became our stabilizing third wheel. He sat with us in our corner and called it an office. He laughed and he danced the rock n’ roll dance and we followed his example and let the weight of our past go.
We fought for him when others wanted to give up. We wanted him to be in our lives forever. We wanted his joy and light and art and music to be part of the foundation we were building.
We still loved him when we said goodbye. We still wanted him to show up one day, in his little tie, his hair slicked to the side and a goofy smile on his face.
We watched from far away, too far away, as Geoffrey with a G wandered around looking for something he so easily brought out in others. But Geoffrey with a G didn’t have a Geoff to lean on and he got lost.
Our kids do his rock n’ roll dance and don’t know where it came from.
You and I sit here now, in grief and regret, and wonder if Geoffrey with a G can see us rocking and if he is happy as he paints, dot by dot, line by line.
You look at me and your face is red and your eyes are swollen and you swallow hard as we hold each other and remember the broken boy who fixed another broken boy but could not fix himself.
Geoffrey, you will never know how much we loved you. You will never know how much you will be missed.