I lost a good friend yesterday to brain cancer.

Of course, it’s selfish to look at it that way, especially with Noah, someone who knew everyone. So many people are grieving.

But grief is such a personal experience, something every single person feels differently. My sister is reading Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, for AP English and I found myself thinking of his logotherapy notion yesterday, which sometimes brings me comfort. But not this time. Yesterday, I just saw it as the lonely, existential view that grief cannot be quantified or compared, that in this, we can’t really relate.

Learning of his death via Facebook didn’t make it any easier. It felt so public and so removed, so unlike a phone call with a friend.

And so I sat here, thinking about how public a blog is. And I thought about writing something anyway, because at the moment, I can’t sit and cry with anyone who really knew him. There’s some sort of community to be found in the internet, of course, something Facebook tries, and occasionally succeeds, in moderating.

Mostly, it felt like too important a moment to just let pass by.

But it wasn’t until I read the Missoulian article this morning that I was ready to write something. It was this quote, from a friend of his, that got the wheels turning.

“Noah had a knack for responding to a person’s daily gripes with a heartfelt, empathetic ribbing. My casual complaints about life were usually met with, ‘Wow, man. That sucks. … [sigh] … Gosh. … I have cancer.’”

Because it was real. It made me laugh. It was Noah, in all his sarcastic glory.

So what I’ll remember can’t be put in a consolation card.

I’ll remember when his mom made him use a hands-free (with cord) way before Bluetooth. She was worried about his incessant phone-to-ear syndrome affecting his tumor, but he felt like a total idiot and we all made sure to tease him about it.

I’ll remember his dancing, often inappropriate for the situation. Pretty much almost always, actually.

I’ll remember being too young to get into a bar for a friend’s 21st, and the bouncer asking me (in heels), how I could possibly be 5′2″. Umm….but since I was with Noah, I was allowed to pass through with a smile and a roll of the eyes.

I’ll remember how annoyed I’d get when we’d hang out, especially in the UC, because it was like a parade of Noah’s friends, one after the other, all wanting to talk to him, to flirt with him, to laugh. He told his mom when he was a kid that he wanted to be popular. I know no one who was as popular as he was.

I’ll remember the salsa class we took together and shopping for costumes for a Halloween salsa dance at the Elk’s. We went to one of those stores on Reserve that pops up just for the holiday. Many of the costumes on offer were really crude, so we wandered and giggled, I came up with lots of random ideas but Noah wasn’t really feeling any of them. Then he came around the corner wearing these huge white Mickey gloves, and I foolishly asked, “But what are you going to do with them?” “Wear ’em, I guess. I don’t know. I sort of like them.” He put them on in the car on the way home, wore them to the dance, and they made appearances at Grizzly sporting events for years. As Jed Liston said at Noah’s graduation ceremony last month, they were probably a good thing, as they camouflaged Noah’s actual fingers. He was caught redhanded, showing just one finger, on the Griz Vision Jumbotron one game. Oops.

I’ll remember how he’d take me in for a hug and then pretend to whisper sweet nothings, all while nuzzling my neck or my ear or whatever it took to make me squeal. This was a fairly common Noah greeting tactic for all sorts of girls (and the occasional guy).

I’ll remember how he named his tumors and how he’d refer to them sometimes sort of like children. “Nope, Ollie’s not a big fan of the strobe lights,” he told me once.

A very silly friend of mine was known to occasionally hitchhike home from the bars and was picked up by Noah one late night. Noah had only met the kid once, knew him vaguely as a friend of mine. But my friend called the next day to quiz me on Noah, to tell me what a funny and nice guy he was, figure out how he could become his friend, too. “That’s one cool guy,” he told me. And he was.

He was one cool guy. And we are all going to miss him.

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6 responses to “Noah”

  1. KVV

    Beautiful stuff, Em. There is something spiritual about writing about the people you love, even when the pass on. It is, in some ways, my version of prayer. Richard Hugo, one of my favorite poets, once said: “Writing matters because it’s a way of saying you and the world have a chance.”

    As they say on NPR: This I believe.

    Godspeed, Noah.

  2. KVV

    Of course, now that I post this, I look through other parts of the blog and see you’re a Hugo devotee, so perhaps you know this quote well.

    “You Could Love Here” remains one of my favorite pieces of writing, like, ever.

  3. coloradosullivans

    I miss him, too. Thanks for sharing those stories with everyone.

  4. Carol

    Hi Em,
    Here’s a story much better than the Missoulian’s

  5. mego

    Beautiful. Thanks so much for the stories. Lots of love.

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