It doesn’t always come in the middle of the night.
Sometimes it comes during the middle of lunch or over a slice of pie or at the bottom of an afternoon glass of beer or on a lazy Saturday morning when the limitless possibilities of a weekend lie open in front of you.
But often it does come at night. And its ring pierces through your sleep and through your dreams and touches you in a place deep down inside you, which you only open to tally your losses.
And you know what it means, you know, but you reach for the phone anyway — why? Don’t do it!
Turn it off roll over go back to sleep
and when you wake up they’ll never have called.
But you do, you reach for the phone and you answer and even though it’s the middle of the day there the voice on the other end sounds weak, tired, hesitant. Its owner wasn’t ready for this — maybe they thought you wouldn’t pick up?
They summon the strength to tell you what they need to. The opening words reach you through your half-sleep and you listen for one:
The name of the one we’ve lost.
Maybe it was expected. Maybe it’s a shock. Maybe by now, if you’re lucky, someone has woken up next to you and is holding you patiently as reflections and memories start pouring in. Maybe you’re alone as the emotions soon follow and you cut them off with logistics, asking:
Who was there?
Who’s there now?
What’s so-and-so’s phone number?
Who can afford to go?
Should I go?
And why should you have to go anywhere? Why aren’t you with them now, together in comfort, tears, stories, grief, laughter?
In this moment, though you’ve never been better connected, you feel the terrible distance, suddenly insurmountable, and wonder how the fuck you’ve gotten through this so many times before.
* * *
This post originally appeared on Immigrant Baggage. Vivek G. Bharathan has written for pass the roti on the left hand side and Sepia Mutiny. He lives in the Bay Area, where he helps to organize Bay Area Solidarity Summer. He’s @vivekster on Twitter — oh, and he wants you to change your password and use two-factor authentication wherever it’s available.