I do not like people who take someone else’s tragedy and make it their own.
You know the kind of people I’m talking about. The ones who instantly co-opt a death and turn it into their own personal sob story, who make it all about themselves. “Oh, you knew him? Oh my god let me tell you all about how this affected mememe.” Everyone is entitled to grieve in their own way, loss is a very personal thing to deal with, but these people take it to a different level. A very selfish and self-centered place.
I have dealt with a lot of loss in my life. An unfortunate side effect of having a large family and a wide variety of friends is that the more people you know and love, the more you have to lose.
I have one particular sphere of friends that I hold very dear to my heart. These people are not close friends, I don’t see them regularly, but I admire and treasure every single one of them. They are all creative, beautiful, flawed, bright shining stars in a sea of grey. They are all weird and strange and quirky in so many different ways. They want a lot from this world, and they give just as much back to it.
This past weekend one of those wonderful kids, Michael Peggs, died in a car accident mere steps from his family’s home. Peggs had his problems, his demons, but you would be hard pressed to find a bigger smile and a better friend.
In spending some time with his friends who have come together this week to support his girlfriend and each other, you can see the love for Peggs and for each other exploding outward. Reality will set in when everyone goes back to the places they came from, but for the moment they are all floating on a cloud they worked hard to create.
With this group of friends, I have always felt a bit like I was on the outside looking in. This is my own hang-up, not theirs. They are all so welcoming, loving, but they are their own family. They have a decade (or more) of shared experiences, adventures, and trials that I have only been peripherally involved in. To be honest, I am a bit jealous of the amazing connections they’ve forged. I love being with them, catching up on all the things that have happened since we last saw each other, and enjoy the time we get together.
Tonight, I realized a rather unfortunate thing. I have focussed so hard on not being the kind of person who co-opts others’ pain that I haven’t let myself feel the pain that I *should*.
In a room full of people who gathered to remember Peggs and lean on each other, I felt more like an observer than ever. I was friends with Peggs, but I wasn’t his girlfriend, who was in the car with him at the time of the accident. I wasn’t his best friend, who battled cancer with Peggs at his side. I wasn’t his middle school crush, his bike-riding buddy, the one he always got in trouble with in high school. I wasn’t *supposed* to feel like they did, because I was just his friend.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t feel anything at *all*.
So tonight, with my dog at my side, I let myself get angry. I let myself cry. And I let myself really truly miss that goofy, skinny, curly haired crazy kid who absolutely always had a kind word and a hug for me.
Michael Peggs, you are so very loved. By so many.