“And the tears come streaming down your face. When you lose something you can’t replace.” – “Fix You” Coldplay
The first time I spoke with Landon, his story and struggle were palpably painful because of how much he reminded me of me.
We talked many times throughout the following months, but I had fallen prey to my own hubris and “white knight” syndrome… thinking I could “fix” everyone who came my way for help.
I knew I was spreading myself too thin. I knew how much I wanted to see Landon happy. I also knew Derek had connections in Ogden and he took the reins, not just supporting Landon, but finding him a partial scholarship to get him into treatment.
Then we lost Derek. The first time I met Landon in person, he had sat in the chapel at Derek’s viewing and waited over an hour so that I could give him a hug.
He had his recovery glow. His mom was so sweet and gave me WAY too much credit.
Our mutual grief had brought us together. Two guys in recovery who were so grateful and heartbroken for/about Derek.
Lisa (Landon’s Mom) sent me the counters and texts about how excited she was that Landon was approaching 90 days.
I was doing a phone interview when my phone began chiming like crazy. It was Lisa and another friend of Derek’s- David Hoene:
I sat dumbstruck but called Lisa back before I could lose my nerve.
“My baby’s gone!” she sobbed into the phone.
I had learned enough during the previous year to not allow the “would’ve and could’ve” questions creep in at full force. (Or so I thought.)
Mostly I regretted all of the BBQs and boating outings with Landon that I’d never have. I was selfish about my grief. I was angry at everything else I could’ve done. It wasn’t just a sad loss.
It was an angry loss.
Tonight I stood in a line outside Walker Memorial that stretched across the entire parking lot and into the road. Landon’s light, goodness, and “spark” were so clearly evident.
I was overwhelmed. I wasn’t ready. I felt gut-shot.
One by one, people came up to me because they recognized the picture that Lisa had shared. One by one, they told me about how often Landon had talked about Derek and myself.
The Survivor’s Guilt was deafening. Why did I deserve to be the last one standing when I would’ve gladly taken a bullet for either of my brothers in recovery?!
Why? Why? Why?
I felt less prepared the nearer I got to the front of the line. Landon’s family kept going out of their way to come talk to me, and when Lisa saw me, she left the line to hug me.
“Thank you for what you did for him. You’re sort of a hero to our family.”
My tear ducts couldn’t have been clamped any tighter had I super-glued them shut.
Why??! What did I do?! He’s in a casket!!!
I tried to think of something I could say (other than the internal screaming of inadequacy that I really felt.)
There’s nothing you can say.
I made it to my car and three blocks away from Walker Memorial before I pulled over to unleash these tears. “Fix You” by Coldplay was on the radio.
(Thanks, Big Guy, for bypassing all subtlety tonight.)
It took a lot of napkins from the glove compartment to see clearly. It took a lot of breathing to think clearly.
I miss Landon. I miss his random texts. I miss all the time I didn’t spend with him but should’ve.
Hug them tight. Whoever and wherever they are. You can’t “fix” anyone; but today, Landon’s family… you’re MY heroes.
There’s no doubt in my mind that your love for him was always evident in his eyes.
You have shown me how to celebrate life in a new way. You have set an example of pure love and hope in the face of unimaginable loss.
I might not feel like I deserve everything kind you extended, but I can’t describe how much I needed it.
You are an incredible group of people. The line outside that service shows how amazing Landon is and how bright his spark continues to burn.
I’m so grateful for you all and can only stand in awe by the miraculous shift you’ve shown me with your smiles and hugs.
Tears abound… obviously.
The light, however… you’ve accomplished the impossible task of letting those of us who joined you feel that light, love and hope overpower the bitterness.
I’m about to head home feeling a genuine gratitude that I was able to know Landon (even briefly) because despite the pain… the good overwhelms.
I sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.