Some things you don’t want to write because you know you won’t do them justice. Some things you don’t want to write because writing about it will make it true. Some things you don’t to want write because they will cut to the bone. Sometimes you write anyway, because you have to try, because the truth is owed and the blood and bone. This is one of those times.
I haven’t seen as much of Mike in the past few years as I would have liked. Our paths diverged some time ago, but he was one of my oldest friends and knowing he was in the world was always a comfort, and seeing him a pleasure. That comfort is gone now and the pleasure will live on only in memory and all of us who loved him are diminished by his loss.
For many the first thing Mike will bring to mind is his music. He was a great musician and I always loved to hear him play. For others it will be his sense of humor, or his gentleness, or a thousand other things. I can’t fix my own memories to any one thing, though his sense of mischief runs deep in my own memories of Mike, perhaps because I knew him first when we were young.
We met the summer I turned fifteen, at Renaissance Festival school, though we didn’t grow close until the year after when I started driving with Mike and Sean as my most frequent passengers. We spent a lot of time together over the next seven or eight years.
The memories are so many and varied it’s hard to know where to start. Driving aimlessly around Minneapolis in the middle of the night, drinking endless gallons of Mountain Dew at Davanni’s and Pizza Hut or sitting in Mike’s room or Sean’s. Warhammer, listening to him first playing around with a guitar, wandering around Festival together. Arriving at the Colorado Festival after a sixteen hour drive and leaping straight into the back of another car to drive to Boulder. Sitting across a coffin shaped coffee table at my first apartment tossing black cat firecrackers at each other and giggling. Co-writing the opening of a fantasy novel by plugging two keyboards into one Mac and trying to outdo each other. Him talking me into my first ear piercing…and on and on. A thousand memories and all of them precious. But if finding a starting place is hard, coming to the end is infinitely harder.
The thought that I will have no more new memories of Michael hurts me. Knowing that I’ll never see the wicked smile he so often shared, or hear the soft chuckle, or simply know that he is out there somewhere smiling and laughing and making music–that is a truth I do not want to face. It costs in blood and bone and soul, and though I have written thousands of pages I find myself all but bereft of words at this loss, knowing I can never to do justice to the memory of an old and dear friend.
Michael Matheny was my friend, we helped each other grow up. I loved him, and he is gone, and the world will be a darker place with his light gone out of it.