A Tribute of Grief: Christopher Van Pelt
Trigger Warning: Experimental and contains Adult Language and Content
It’s almost been a year. Here is a tribute. I’m sorry – it’s not the one you expected or the one he deserves.
Christopher Van Pelt (March 1974 – January 2021) was my best friend.
[How Grief Can Ruin a Well-Meaning Tribute]
His husband and I in the waiting room of the hospital – COVID 19 in full force – the Kleenex box no more than inches from my hand. I died. My heart stopped beating – I’ll swear to it. We sat in cold metal chairs. The nurse came into the room to let us know Chris was dead. Chris was dead. Chris was dead. Chris was dead – the words echoed, though I didn’t completely understand them. Chris was dead and absolutely everything fucking stopped. Everything mother fucking stopped – and his husband threw himself upon the hospital floor to weep – and he did not stop.
Chris was dead. “The medical team tried” at our home – I was there and know otherwise. They hesitated because he was already dead – I just wish they had been honest about it – false hope is not a gift. Chris was dead. Before they arrived, I pumped his chest as directed by the 911 operator – she tried and I tried - and he was grey, his face was fucking grey. We (his husband and I – it was my fault) bumped his head on the bedroom floor as we moved him, as the 911 operator asked (I haven’t mentioned this before) – and he didn’t feel it because he was already dead. And I still don’t completely accept these words. Chris was dead. I pumped his chest because I was told to do so. His face was grey – we bumped his head – and he was already mother fucking dead. I’m so sorry we bumped your head upon the floor.
Grieving is insanity. And, if you haven’t experienced it – just know it may not be what you expect it to be – and there is no way to prepare for it. It’s insanity. And that’s natural and normal. It’s insanity – at first. And at second. And at third.
I look back and remember the good times – the great times we were together – for 18 years. He was my best friend, and he is dead. He is fucking dead (in present tense).
Hysterical blindness (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversion_disorder).
Calm – I have an audience here. I need to calm myself - It’s the Jimmy Broccoli page. They are listening and they don’t expect me to lose it. To fucking lose it. They don’t expect it and I’m writing here, and people expect me to be okay – for a moment – for a moment to post my grief and then, perhaps, to share a good memory or something less devastating - to round out the sharp edges. They expect me… to be normal. Mother fuck – they expect me to be normal?
Grief is insanity. Chris is dead. And I loved him with every breath. This tribute isn’t what you expected. I know that. It’s not even a tribute. And I’m sorry. The next time I write about him, I’ll tell you about his kindness.
Grief is insanity. Love is insanity.
Chris is dead – and I couldn’t love and miss him more.
Pause. Pause. Pause. Deep breath.
Programming as usual…
Christopher Van Pelt with Mariah laying across the relocated dining room chairs. This is the last photo I took of him before he left us. This was Christmas afternoon (2020) - it was a wonderful and fun day I’ll always remember.