Nick Cave & the Bad Seed’s Let Love In is pulsing through my headphones while I am swirling some rye whiskey around in a wine glass, sipping periodically. I needed to get to a place tonight where I could write freely about the slow burn that has coursed through my heart and mind all week since I learned about the death of Aaron Everingham. Nick Cave, because he may have been Aaron’s favorite artist of all time, the whiskey because I don’t want to overthink this, I don’t want to allow my mind to do any type of emotional revisionism. Most of all, I needed to get in touch with my friend.
It’s strange to think that in the day and age of the quickly tiring critique that technology is the harbinger of death for real, meaningful relationships, I mourn the death of a guy that I never shook hands with or hugged. I heard his voice on the phone, once, for a couple of hours the first time we intentionally interacted with each other at the behest of Ruben Cardenas. The rest of the time was mediated through text, Facebook, Twitter and reading each other’s written work which probably told us more about each other than that which we spoke or typed to each other. It’s a special telepathy that fellow writers know all too well.
A couple of Saturdays ago, I was thinking about Aaron and decided to send him a text: a GIF of Nick Cave being goofy and a simple “how ya doing bro?” A few minutes later, I came to realize that there are some boundaries that data from phones cannot transcend, the chasm stretched out between the living and the dead. Instead it found its way to Aaron’s brother, Ryan, who shortly thereafter texted me that his brother had passed away that previous Tuesday. I sat there in my local coffee shop, stunned. My skin had gone cold and the bottom had dropped out of my stomach. I stared at this news for several minutes trying to snap myself out of what had to have been a nightmare. But there it was. Maybe the critics had been right after all, technology had become the harbinger of the death of relationships.
Aaron was one of those writers that had a penchant for phrasing and word choice that enveloped the reader in images that both frustrated and clarified the constructions that we clung to with such stubborn pride. A mystic, although not a mystic detached from a grounding, but a mystic aiming to unearth the mystery of faith and life that had been buried since the Enlightenment—the foundation on which much of Western Christianity utilizes as its cornerstone. Aaron wanted to see that crumble. He wanted to see it crumble, not to replace it with another faulty cornerstone, but to find Christ in all of the rubble and ashes of human endeavors.
When everything is open to inspection, it will take a toll on a person. Aaron, I know, felt that weight, that burden. He may have found himself on the other side of orthodoxy at times. Let me rephrase that. He was willing to publicly illuminate his doubts and questions unlike many of us who often attempt to keep a orthodox façade while the uncertainly surges underneath. His transparency was refreshing and an unspoken sigh of relief for me, personally. Sure, I didn’t have the same doubts that he had, but because I knew Christ bolstered Aaron even in his doubts, I knew I would be too. There was a comfort between us that I think we both recognized. I just wish I could sense that comfort again.
In the background, though, is irrational guilt. My last interaction with him was similar to the one where I found out the bad news, except he responded, said he was doing alright, still in the midst of a rough patch, but making it through. I had been in the midst of something at that moment and I didn’t respond. I never responded. Until this last weekend. By then it was too late. Now, I already know Aaron’s response to this sense of guilt. In his jovial way, he would say something to me that basically told me it was fine and to get over myself. He had no time for such frivolous feelings especially when they distracted instead of drove us towards understanding this life we lived in. He saw spades for spades.
I never know where to take memorials of people I’ve lost in my life. I remember in one of Aaron’s pieces, he basically said something akin to a prayer that all of his tentative thoughts, doubts and words would fall together into a meaning and a focal point. I, too, pray that these random thoughts and emotions written in ink bled out on the page will give an insight into someone, even though I had never physically met, I would call my dear friend. I know Aaron’s weights and burdens are stripped away now and that Christ has him, as He always had. I look forward to meeting him some day in the new heavens and new earth. But, until that moment, I’ll keep waiting for texts, messages and pieces that will never come and I will praise the art of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in his place, because, really, that was one of the most important things to him on this earth. Aaron, keep listening across the chasm and I’ll play the new Nick Cave for you loud and I’ll be thinking about you as it spins.
Miss you already.