What to say?
For starters, if I know Daryl, he probably hates the idea of everyone moping around on his behalf. Detests it. Rejects with every goddamn cell in his body. And I do mean that adjective literally, I have some serious beef with the cells in his body.
Daryl, however, will have to excuse us, as we confront the impending reality of waking up in a world where he does not also wake up. We are sad because he made us all so happy, and interested, and intrigued with the universe around us and how it pertains to a little game we all like to talk about. We feel grief because we feel love, the opposite side of a coin we like to forget about, even though it’s always there, same as the sun rising and setting, the baby being born or the man dying. It’s all one.
Daryl lives life well. It suits him. He is a person who seems to effortlessly float from person to person, relationship to relationship, and give people all of his attentiveness. He has the key to every door in his laugh and the balm to every jitter in the certainty that rests in his vocal cords. I met Daryl still fresh on the cusp of me making soccer and writing my actual career, the job that made me my money, extremely green and very unsure of how I fit into a virtual newsroom filled with people that had tens of thousands of followers, that had been in stadiums and had interviewed people and were journalists. I was an oddball blogger who didn’t know the ins and outs of the business, who had 500-odd people following him on Twitter. I went to a little writer’s retreat, and most everyone there knew each other, or at least were passing acquaintances. I knew no one. Daryl (and Taylor, because it’s true you so often cannot find one without the other) talked to me. He treated me like I belonged there. He made me feel welcome.
It makes complete sense to me why so many people gravitated towards him, and why so many people still do in how they want to help him, how they want to comfort him, how they want to make him know what he means to them. It’s a sign of living well: countless people wanting to help you because you have already helped them, simply in the way you carry yourself and interact with people.
I refuse to give a eulogy for the living. I am sad that my friend will die, yes, but he is alive, right now, at the time of me writing this. Thanks to the Internet, this newsletter will be saved and stored and crystallized in the digital amber for anyone to look back upon, even myself, a moment where Daryl is alive and so am I, which is my preferred version of the world. And in this moment, I’d like to take the opportunity to live well, the way he lives. But I do not possess the same easy cheerfulness, nor the relentless optimism. Quite the opposite, actually.
If there is one thing that Daryl imparts with people, it’s his relentless support of the work he believes in. He was one of my first fans and he remains a staunch supporter throughout the couple years of us knowing each other, from bringing me on his podcast to advertising my newsletter when I lost my job, always without my asking. I am lucky enough to have people who I can call my fans, but the group of people that have been bigger fans of me than Daryl is and has been is a very small group indeed.
I very professionally screen-shotted this from The Cooligans’ Instagram because I didn’t have it in my phone, but this was taken right after MLS Cup 2018, in a very cold version of Atlanta, and it was one of the greatest two or three days in my life
So I will do the only thing I can possibly think of doing: I will continue to write. I will write more; I will write better. I will write furiously, because that’s what Daryl wants me to do, I think, and that’s what he will want me to do. And if he doesn’t actually want me to do that, well then, bless him for fooling me into a career anyway. Yet another thing to thank Daryl for.
You’ll hear many platitudes in the coming days, weeks, months, however much time remains. Stay close to the people you love. Tell them you love them. Cherish the moment. And those are all true and good things to do. In fact, before you read the next part, make sure the people you love know that you love them. That’s just best practice for everyone, I think.
What you’ll probably hear less about is the coming to terms with the banality of existence and how the crushing march of time will not even blink when the inevitable occurs. It will not care for you and it will not show you mercy. It will simply continue to plod along, and you will be shocked with how consistent and sad and boring it will be. And every so often, another story like this one will crop up, and you will be forced to ask yourself, again, why you do the things that you do, and what really matters to you. I think, in some way, writing is my answer to all of those questions. I write to encourage. I write to delight. I write to make people question and imagine things from angles they hadn’t considered before. Hopefully, that is a help to you, reading this right now. I write because the more I write, the more I’m living well.
And today, I write because Daryl wants me to be writing. Sometimes, that’s enough. I love you, Daryl. Here’s to a place where you don’t have to worry about your blood sugar and Wolves are always on the tv.
Unfortunately, I do have a poem for the occasion.
LOU GEHRIG, LAKE KUEKA, LATE AUTUMN
Death walks into the room
like you should have
just as simple as that,
smiles gently at you,
puts his hand on your shoulder
like a leaf,
its bloody edges
scraping your skin.
As if we knew
As if we could know
How it ate its way
through a man called Iron,
how it eats its way
We should have had
one last autumn
on the lake together,
listening to the sugar maples
whisper last rites.
We do not hold love and grief
separate, because they are the same.
He takes you away
not cruelly, but quickly,
waltzes with you
through the room,
out the door,
like a leaf
above the black water.