Not the moment

A man I could only assume was Pete’s dad walked out of Pete’s apartment onto our shared porch. He startled when he noticed me rising from a shoe-tying squat.

“Do you want a hug?” I asked.

He leaned in, wrapped his flanneled arms around me, and held on. We parted, and when he looked me in the eye he realized who I was: a stranger.

“I don’t even know you,” he said with a hoarse chuckle.

I wanted to tell him my name wasn’t important. My relationship to Pete didn’t matter. Grief wasn’t a moment for pleasantries or boundaries. It’s a moment when the only thing of any consequence is the realness of the now, the rawness of life-ending change, and sharing the experience that things won’t ever be the same. But grief is also a moment to know when to shut up. I squeezed his arm, and left for my run.