I can’t believe it’s been a year since the last time we came together to do this.
Some people just leave a lasting imprint on the physical world behind them when they leave.
Isaac is one of those people.
It is unusually steamy. The air outside feels like Connecticut’s geographical location has moved to Florida.
I plant myself on the couch and eat a disgusting version of some nutritious experiment with my Nutribullet that turned out much like bland baby food. I don a romper and think about grilling a hamburger patty to eat instead of this pea-green mush.
I lean my head back and my cat, Aum, is lying behind me. I can hear her quiet breathing as she begins to purr. I think about how I love her more than almost anything. How leaning back to rest my head against her ultra soft fur is so reassuring and wonderful. How I won’t always be able to do that, so every time I do, I cherish her fully.
Around 7pm, my best friend, Rachel, and I get our beer and head over to Rose’s house for what we assume to be an epic party, as usual.
There’s a stage set up for musicians to play; food is being grilled. There’s a banner that says “Shakedown Isaactown” and a giant pickle with a hole cut out so you can take your picture. As nighttime falls and more people arrive, the path from the shed house to the fire is lit with glow sticks to look like a magical fairy lane.
Every time I attend an event in honor of Isaac or hosted by Rose, I see familiar faces but I also meet new ones. This is my favorite part. It’s truly a community and family, even if we’ve just met, bound by the common thread of a shared adoration for this man who only stayed on earth for a mere thirty-odd years.
In the shed house stands the keg we all wrote on for Isaac last year at his birthday party. I participate in several games of beer pong. I dominate the table for a while, garnering cheers and gasps with my somehow amazing bounces and throws. I guess all those years at Uconn finally paid off. In between drunken high fives and complaining about my sweat-soaked romper and the hole I tore in the crotch from bending down to pick up a ball, I look at the walls of the shed and think about Isaac. How many times he stood in the exact place I am standing. How it’s so painful that he’s not here to share in this experience with us.
My beautiful friend Jo made a four-hour drive from Vermont to come to the party. She plays guitar and we sing “Blue Jeans” by Lana Del Rey, the song she was playing at Isaac’s celebration at Old Well when I went up and introduced myself to her, because I had learned that song on guitar, too.
Shortly after, it begins to storm pretty heavily. It had rained a little on and off over the evening, with bursts of thunder, but not even enough to put out the fire. This time it is torrential. We all run and huddle under the tents together and listen to the booms as they echo across the sky.
Is this Isaac’s birthday gift to us, perhaps? A group of people forced into even closer quarters with nowhere to escape or find distraction. We have to be there in the moment and wait out the rain. Albeit most are inebriated, we are all there together with nowhere to go. Maybe he just wants us all in the same place for a little while.
Once the rain calms down, Rachel and I Irish-goodbye and make our way home on the windy back roads of Canton and West Simsbury. In my room, I sloppily tear off my romper and plop onto my bed.
The thing is, I know I will see this group again. They are my friends. Some I know better than others, but I cherish knowing them, because the way I was brought to them, although heart-breaking, is so beautiful.
To be someone who makes an impact every day is important. Yet, if your impression on others continues to ripple out and echo across time like a loud crash of thunder, then your breaths on earth were not wasted.