In a previous post (on Facebook) I composed what at first felt like a matter-of-fact, poem-esque expression of my current state of mind regarding my cousin Evan, who passed nineteen years ago on July 4th, 2002. I look at it now and realize it’s an outline, or more aptly put, the skeletal framework/structure to a more sophisticated and nuanced sentiment warranting organs to serve a musculature clothed in flesh, animated by a spirit, embodying the soul of what I was trying to say.
This I what I meant:
William Evans Trawick, Jr. passed away during a morning run due to a heart attack - engendered by a rather severe heart condition - at the age of twenty. I was fourteen at the time, two months shy of fifteen. I knew Evan my whole life and am told by family, and friends thereof, that we bonded instantly. Some unquantifiable magnetism, or maybe, some invisible indistinguishability in spirit, albeit a perceived distinction in corporeal form: different people, identical energies. And it is within this perception I begin parsing little doubts.
Out of the approximately fifteen years I knew Evan, I recollect, in fragments, about eight of them. Out of those eight years, I was in the presence of him two times a year, give or take. So, in the eight years I can recall, I was with him in person only sixteen times. Derived from this I understand, all too well, I didn’t really *know* him.
Evan had a whole life outside of ours: mother, father, sister, brother, other cousins, uncles, aunts, friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches…all who *knew* Evan in his life far more than I ever did, and ever will. So many experiences, intimate moments, personal challenges, losses and victories, sadness and celebrations. So many little details that other people knew of him—that I never did. And I find sometime that it must feel a little insulting to those who truly *knew* Evan when someone like me articulates a sense of profound loss when I think of him. How right they are to think “you have no idea.” I think of the immense crowd who showed up to the funeral, and I distinctly remember sitting up front, in the first row of pews, with Evan’s family, holding our grandmother’s hand, and that of his grandmother’s on his mother’s side, thinking “who am I to be up here? Who am I to be so beat up by this, while all these lovely people so personally connected to Evan are further back?” That question haunts me still. Why do I put myself up at the front of the pews of that grief? It’s not fair of me to do so. And that pains me in a manner immeasurable—because I still do it, even though I *know* others are there in a far more real sense.
Evan would be forty today, July 16th, 2021. I often wonder, what he would think of me now. For I am a far different man than that boy in those pictures I often look at, the few he and I were both in. I haven’t achieved very much in this world, not by conventional standards anyhow. My achievements have been predominantly intellectual, spiritual. Most people don’t care for that much these days. They want to see progress and real landmarks. I don’t blame them. Evan was one of those people who wanted results, I remember that. He was an achiever in ways that were clear and acknowledged. Driven the way heroes in stories of old are driven. I haven’t been one who procured these types of achievements, even to this day. Wonder what he would think of that? Knowing those traits of him, and knowing how I have developed, would he appreciate what I’ve done with my life? Would he like the guy I am now? Would I be someone he would “hangout” with? Would he like me? I don’t know the answers to these questions, and in this life I never will. But the identical spirit would still be there. His favorite hero was Superman. Mine too. That’s a bigger detail I remember. A smaller, more comical one, we both used to bite our toenails - anyone else do that? - when younger. I learned he used to do that long after he had passed. His mother told me. Spiritually identical indeed.
It’s peculiar, for I am far older now than he ever was so when looking back on it, in a sense, he’s the younger man. Odd to comprehend that. But, I believe there’s a link there too. I’m given that gift of reversal, for it’s only a kindred-spirit who can take on that level of empathy. Linked together like notes in music.
This morning I was looking through YouTube to catch up on some lectures and seminars and panel discussions. I came across a Bob Dylan song - my favorite songwriter - that I had only ever caught bits and scraps with poor audio of before. I always found it haunting in the most gentle and velvety ways, like floating in blue. I sometimes - and this is my inner child simply experiencing the sensation with no intellectual component - would think of Superman alone in the sky, thinking of Lois Lane, hoping she’s okay. Someone has taken the time to polish up the audio and sew together the footage, cutting out some of the pauses and hiccups.
The video was uploaded on June 16th, 2021. It has no connection whatsoever to Evan in any direct sense, but tangentially speaking, I just so happened to stumble upon it today, July 16th, 2021. I’ve got sixteen recollections of being around my dear departed friend in person. Out of the nineteen years he’s been gone, I only began to consciously trying to remember him three years after he passed—It’s been sixteen years of deep cogitation on my buddy, and who he was to me. Spiritually intertwined, indeed
Here’s a little gift I got today, for you all to enjoy: