We’d all grown up together from small-kid time, most from age three or four, so far survived school, work, bad relationships, marriages, got together often, more family in some ways than we were with our blood families.
This was one of our typical wild parties, for a while, but the mood shifted, with Barry saying, when we were nearing the peak of the evening’s celebration, that he’d been diagnosed with cancer, terminal, his time now very short.
Why he chose to say it then, I had trouble understanding, the moment so strange, how he was talking only to Joey, but what he said cut right through the laughter, caught everyone’s attention, quiet falling like a storm of silent rain around the room.
Everyone stopped still, everyone focusing on what he was saying, wrapping our heads around the idea that he would be the first, we realized, who would lead us into whatever lay beyond this life.
All of us, getting on, sat down, collapsed in our seats, staring at each other, moving from face to face, while Joey sat cross-legged on the floor, head bowed.
All of us wondering at it all, how to figure out the meaning of the end, our heads falling back, exhausted more than we’d ever felt before, some maybe scared, some maybe not, all staring at the ceiling, our breathing slowing, the adrenaline draining, trying to see through it, everyone speechless, searching beyond for something in the moon and stars.