The Viewing

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Featured Review on this writing by Criss Sole

This is based on a true story, as I experienced it. In 2014, I lost a good friend of mine to a heroin overdose. His name was Chase. He was only 28 years old when he passed. This piece is a tribute to him as well as the story about the journey to his wake and funeral and how it changed my friends and I forever.

Recently, just two days ago at the time of writing this, I lost another friend that was a part of this friend group. She was there with me on this journey and was so comforting and full of love and I am going to miss her greatly.

This is for Chase and Shay. I love you both so much.

The Viewing

We all wonder, how can we possibly have faith after death? When the earth comes crashing down at our feet and all we want is for time to reverse even if we are left stumbling over the cement.

In it, we had the faith that he was all around us, and he was teaching us the lesson that he had learned when he was teetering on the edges of heaven and the earth. A lesson about having faith. About growing wings. We were all looking for that place within ourselves to trust and have faith in others, and it took a desirable struggle to understand what it meant to lose control and rest in not knowing the answers.

I lost a good friend two weeks ago. I don’t want to say he battled addiction. I like to think of it more as battling an endless war with having faith in others and losing faith in himself. He was one of the most beautiful souls that you’d ever meet. Tattoos lined his forearms as he expressed the beauty on his skin, as it hesitated on his lips.

After his death, I learned so much more about him by how tremendously he affected others. I discovered that the love people had for Chase ran oceans deep. It was remarkable, and our group of friends became a family again as we remembered every quirk and unique laugh that we all experienced and could imitate, in the same way. His laugh still echoing and entertaining our minds.
As I was discovering more about him. I also discovered the river of anxiety that commonly runs through all of our veins.

“Anxiety is a sin”, the quotation marks hesitating on the page as he wrote this revelation in his notebook at the Denton Freedom House for Rehabilitation.

The shame.

The shame.

The shame he dealt with on a daily basis.

When all we could see were his wings.

“Would it be weird if I told you that you are a beautiful person?”

He would say this to people that played him beautiful music, or just intrigued him, by just being themselves. He lifted the spirit in us when we were sinking.

His words bloomed on his lips. The words still resonating as the moment passed.

With each miraculous word of love he gave as a gift, he took a leap of faith, it was the most courageous thing he did for others, and he had the faith, in the goodness of people. If he could just find it.

If we took a journey of a lifetime. This would be it. A journey that would change our lives forever. A journey where we would have to say goodbye, and hello to an entirely new life lived on faith.

A geyser bursted from a fire hydrant on the curb on the side of the road near the funeral home, waiting for us to break through it all. As it spewed, the geyser arched in the air and soaked our windshield, baptizing us in the realization that we were moving closer to the viewing. In which we were about to view our own deaths, as parts of us were left with him forever. A piece of our hearts that we would lay to rest with him. So he could have it and fill himself with an ocean of love.

Death is a manifestation of God, a heavenly message that all living things come to an end. This trip wasn’t over, and the nightmare moved closer.

But, on our way to the viewing, we discovered a presence within all of us that longed for company.

Last week, I witnessed the trip of faith, after all faith had been lost. After death, when all we wanted was to see his beautiful face again, we witnessed the beauty he wanted to express all his life in the enchanted earth and heavens above us. He was there. We felt him. But, as people still under the paradox of earth, we depended on time to guide us. And we had to wait.

“What if we don’t get there in time?”

The car humming in the background.

“We’ll get there exactly when we are supposed to get there. Exactly when Chase wants us to get there. He knows we’re coming.” My friend Brandon, one of the three amigos, laid back in his seat resting on Chase’s company in the music that he breathed.

With each breath, geysers washed over us and brought us closer to God.

We were gridlocked in traffic and the entire highway had been closed down due to some catastrophic circumstances that we could only attempt to explain by imagining that an eighteen wheeler had exploded and blocked all four lanes of traffic. Helicopters hovered in the sky above us.

“That sly bastard!” “Chase did this to fuck with us.” We cracked up and held onto his brilliant sense of humor for as long as we could fill ourselves with it.

We were headed to Longview, Texas. The perfect name for the perfect place that Chase would be born and buried, because he had always had the long view, and he was waiting for us to discover it there.

After meandering through traffic and riding shoulders we re-routed to Loop 12. Where we happened upon more traffic, but not the stand-still going nowhere traffic that we couldn’t afford to wait in.

So, we rested there. In traffic, listening to songs that enveloped us in our best friend’s passionate spirit. We waited and basked in his beauty and attempted to explain all the events that surrounded us on our trip as a cosmic lesson from him. After a while, the traffic separated as the tides rolled outwards, and we could follow the ripples of the road with ease and the dips in the road carried us to him. The most gorgeous full moon bloomed in the sky, and we felt the glow and comfort of his presence. He was the man on the moon, and he was watching. The humming of the road rocked us and enchanted us with awe while we tip-toed towards a life that rested on a brand new existence. We were okay. And it was then that we felt the pull of the earth holding us there, mid-air, safely, as if there was nowhere left to fall. The love we felt for him was aligned with the stars and everything that fell into our path, and our faith unfolded in our hearts. Awakened.

As we turned a corner, the busted fire hydrant arched and poured down onto us…

We had tunnel vision, hollow where our hearts were, every sound bouncing off itself as the realization set in.

The car was soaked, and we broke through…

“That was Chase, ha, telling us to…

“Wake Up”

His voice carried, and drifted in my mind...

Breaking through the treacherous waters, we pulled up to the funeral home.

Our souls floating.

We walked into the viewing.

“Wake up” “Wake up”

Was the first thing I thought when I saw him lying there.

But, I think that was meant for me.

My shoulders dropped as I accepted the inevitable.

Eyelids flickering as I moved closer.

“There was more of Chase in those roses by his casket, than in his shell.”

Brandon’s voice echoed from the future, as I floated out of my body and recalled seeing Chase lying there.

The roses bloomed all around him.

He was there in the roses. He was always there.

We arrived at our hotel and settled in… counting the hours until the funeral. Feeling endless.

Under the gazebo outside our hotel, our designated place of contemplation, I settled on the bench and asked him if he was there listening, and out of some corner of existence cottonwood buds lifted in the air and spun around me, a dazzling glimmer of hope blanketing me in comfort.

He was the tiniest of cell, he was the deepest of sky. He was the beauty. He was taking us on a trip of faith. And my friend Brandon joined us as a conduit, narrating the events around us as an angel growing wings. Sensing the world as it was, and praying for humanity. Praying for us to begin caring for others as we all hope to be cared for, so that we wouldn’t be doomed to fall under the microscope, as Chase once was.

“We have to remember…”

“We have to remember,” Brandon said with that look in his eye, cigarette trembling in his hand, “We have to remember to care.”

“We have to remember…”

And as the geyser hit us.

We woke up.

What really matters? Is what we were left with, leaving the funeral, asking ourselves.

Chase didn’t understand this fully until he met his creator, but, he opened his eyes in death.

Fully bloomed.

Chase was a rose under a microscope, his beauty could not be counted, his effect on the earth could not be calculated. He was just beautiful, and he pushed the microscope away, and viewed your soul.

But, can we open our own eyes? And push away the microscopes?

Can we push away the slides, and the lenses…?

Can we push away…?

Because,

In the background, the roses are still blooming.

Life will keep moving, but will we remember… to care?


Submitted: September 21, 2020

© Copyright 2022 Roxanne B.. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Criss Sole

I thought this was a beautiful tribute, written so poetically, it brought tears to my eyes.
I am so sorry you lost Chase and Shay.
This was a good reminder that all things come to an end, and we really have to learn to care about one another, and appreciate what we have now.
Very well written and moving.

Tue, September 22nd, 2020 1:37pm

Author
Reply

Thank you so much Criss! It means a lot to me that you read my story. Yes, it's so important to appreciate what we have now because it can be gone so quickly. That can be so hard to remember.
When someone you love passes you realize how much you will miss the little things about them that were so unique to them. One regret I had after Chase died was that I had deleted a video of him to make room on my phone before he passed. It was just a video of him snoring loudly on the couch LOL. That's why I deleted it, but I so wish I had that back now. Just to hear him take a breath would be pure joy.

Thank you so much for your condolences. Chase and Shay were great people with huge hearts and they are missed so much.

Thu, September 24th, 2020 2:47am

Sharief Hendricks

What a beautiful piece to honour two people that meant so much to you Roxanne.

I am also guilty of planning for tomorrow or for next week, not knowing that for some of us , myself included tomorrow or next week might never come...

This was such an important reminder that we must cherish the people in our lives and tell them how much we love and care for them...while they are still with us.

Beautiful...You have ensured that they will not be forgotten!

Wed, February 17th, 2021 8:42am

Author
Reply

Aw, thank you so much Sharief! It's so nice to hear that I could honor them in a way that touches the lives of others too :)

It really is difficult not to focus on planning or living in the past or future. I have to remind myself to slow down daily and be thankful for those in my life.

Thank you so much for commenting Sharief! I love hearing from you and I hope you're doing well!

Sat, March 6th, 2021 1:25pm

euehfgh

How painful that must have been to lose one friend, and then lose another while grieving the loss of the first! I've never understood why someone would want to take heroin in the first place. Everyone knows that it destroys people.

Mon, December 6th, 2021 5:09am

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