Thoughts on a man missing for years, now legally declared dead
|And so it is done. Finally, after all this time, they have declared you dead.
“Presumed dead.” Even in a declaration of such finality, there must be some room to admit that we are still not sure, can never be sure. The things you took with you were nothing if not secrets, as you left possessions strewn in houses and hotel rooms and your abandoned car. Photographs, your passport, words you had written that most of us still have yet to hear — all left behind, like scraps, fragments of a former life you chose to no longer live. Or perhaps just life in general.
You knew, of course, to some extent, the intensity with which some people followed all you did and said. And many have supposed this was what drove you to leave — running away from they who claimed to know you, they who trapped you in this lifestyle you chose but rejected. This persona you created but could not love, nor learn to live with.
Your friends and family knew a different side to you, of course. They saw you smile and heard you laugh; they knew your fun side. Many of us knew only the intensity, the drama, the part you played. But we knew there were secrets underneath, the parts of you we could not know. We knew you were real.
When you left, you took so much with you — not least the truth. You took it and made it into a secret, one of your secrets that we can never know. But this one remains secret from everyone; your friends, your family, everyone who ever loved you or knew you at all — there is no one among us who can ever know the truth.
And so here we are, almost fourteen years later, and a new truth has been created. That which is real can never be known — the basic fundamental question: alive or dead? — and so we may only decide for ourselves, each of us choosing what to believe. And maybe they just couldn’t stand it anymore. Your mother, your father, your sister, never able to fully accept one way or another what may or may not have happened to you. So they asked to be told. Tell us a truth, a certainty, and we can move on. Make it official: presumed dead.
It’s strange that it hasn’t changed my feelings about what happened. I still can’t consider a man dead when there is no body, no physical confirmation that he has died. You're a man who lived for twenty-seven years and then took more than thirteen years to die. And to think, all you were looking for was peace, an end to the chaos. And now the words, the legal documents, the created truth has declared you dead and so that is what you will be. We have known for years, maybe all along, that you were never coming back. We would never see you again, and for the most part we had accepted that. But the questions were always there. You took the answers with you and left us only questions, endless questions that multiplied as facts failed to add up.
And now we have an answer. It came from the courts, not from you — but then, the answer would never have come from you. It may not be the truth but it is an answer, and it’s all we will ever have. There could never be a happy ending, so we will have to take comfort in this, the only ending there is. Presumed dead. May it bring you the peace you needed.