Now I Know Grief

In Memoriam: Jarrod Klau.

Today I went to the funeral of a friend. It feels wrong to call him a close friend for reasons I can’t articulate, mostly because other people knew him better than I. But I felt it was my duty to fly from Brisbane to Adelaide, instead of home to Melbourne, to attend the funeral. I’m typing this from the airport lounge waiting for my plane from Sydney back to Melbourne (long story).

For a week, I didn’t care. Actually, that’s not true. I was numb. It was this bizarre suspended state of not-caring that felt wrong, but I couldn’t change it. It’s probably called shock. When Matt rang me and told me, I didn’t really believe him, but I could tell by the tone of his voice it was true. Still, it was unreal. Truly unreal, in the way that the word really means, not like the way people use it carelessly like when they say ‘surreal’ or ‘unbelieveable’. This was, horribly, terribly, believeable. Because it was true. Jarrod is dead.

And it took a week to sink in. Of all things, I was in the garage with A., doing our home version of a spin class. Only five minutes from the end, I was in that wonderful suspended state that those who exercise will know. The state when the endorphins have kicked in and hurting yourself in this way feels good. When your thoughts just float and you think of everything and nothing. You’re in flow, meditating to the rhythm of the pedals or the road. And then the wave hit me, coming from nowhere. I unclipped and fell off the bike in one motion, the heaving grief erupting from somewhere within me that I didn’t even know existed.

I tried to choke out words so that A. wasn’t scared by my sudden collapse. I could tell how it would look from her perspective, and I didn’t want her to worry. Even in the depths of my grief, so sudden and unexpected, I didn’t want her to worry. Somehow I knew that it would pass. And it did. As quickly as it had come, I rose from the depths of utter despair to a placid calm, as if nothing had happened.

So this was grief. As unpredictable and unfathomable as the human mind itself. And this grief was mine.

I was surprised at the depth of feeling, for truly I felt that I wasn’t a true friend to Jarrod. Certainly I knew him, and had shared good times and bad with him, but still, in mourning his passing I didn’t feel worthy of calling him friend. Acquaintance, perhaps. There were others who stood before me in line to call him friend, and I did not want to deny them their place in line.

And how strange a concept that is, that there should be some queue for those who grieve. Not yet, it’s not your turn. Wait for others to finish before you begin. That’s not how it works.

So I’ve learned to grieve in my own time. And today I learned that there are others who feel the same as I do. It felt right to grip Matt’s hand, our faces mutual masques of grief, as he bore the casket out of the church. To embrace Chris with a fierceness that was as instinctive as it was comforting. To see Craig and Julia, and to know that we were all there, united in our separate ways.

And to laugh with white and black humour at the day, and Jarrod’s past antics, and ourselves, and the process, and the strangeness of it all. To be so young and to have already seen death before, but never so close. To wonder at my own character to be so affected by the death of a friend. Am I better or worse to admit feeling like this? Is this normal? Who cares, for my friend is dead, and I can never speak to him again. And this sucks, and it’s not his fault, and I wish it wasn’t so, but I know that I have to accept it. But not yet. Not yet.

And so I cry.

It comes in waves. After the first, debilitating crash, it has become more subtle. A gentle ebbing tide that occasionally throws up a breaker. And so it breaks over me, and I can’t keep it in, and it leaks out of my eyes. The bleak sea within escapes unto the world, as if to drown it with the loss that I feel. A loss that is so personal and mine that I don’t want to share it, yet I know that it has been shared since before I was born, and will continue long after others grieve for me the same way.

But I don’t care.

Jarrod was my friend and I miss him.

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  1. Well written. Very sorry to hear about your friend.

  2. Justin, this sums up what alot of us were thinking when we received the call from Matt.
    Thanks for sharing how you feel. Jarrod will be missed.

  3. You’re welcome, Megan.

  4. Hi Justin, I just found out yesterday that Jarrod has passed.

    He wasn’t a close friend of mine, more a friend of friends and I played in a netball team with him in London for several seasons. The team disbanded as people moved on and remained in address books but not regular contact.

    It was at a get-together last night where I found out. I was truly shocked and saddened to hear the news. And so it brings me to search online to get my head round life, which sometimes just doesn’t make sense.

    My heart goes out to all his friends and family now a year on.
    Vicky x

  5. Hi Vicky,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We all still miss him, even after a year.

    I still catch myself thinking I’ll see him again, as if he’s just overseas and he’ll be back for a visit sometime. Only to realise that no, he isn’t, and no, he won’t.

    *sigh*. Treasure the happy memories, I suppose, and be thankful for the time we did have.

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