When I was in the hospital a guy about my age was in the room across the hall from me. Rusty was his name. I won’t get too into his story as I don’t know if he’d have wanted it but let’s just say he was in bad shape. We all were. You don’t get your own hospital room if you’re doing okay. Anyway though, Rusty listened to Metallica every day. All day, everyday. I wasn’t much of a fan at first but it grew on me. It gave him hope and joy so I figured their must be something to it. At a certain point it become an anthem to start the long day ahead.
A year or two after I left the hospital was his funeral, it was the first funeral I’d ever been to. I hadn’t known him well, in fact besides his love for Metallica I didn’t know him at all. We’d had various therapy sessions together but he couldn’t talk by the time I met him so I didn’t learn much about him outside of his disabilities. Going to his funeral was a weird experience for me, I didn’t know his family or friends at all either. He’d always given me incredible hope though, truly I am very thankful for the strong will he showed me. I wanted to pay my respect but I didn’t know him. I loved the way he made me feel and losing him was a struggle but the sadness I felt listening in to the speakers that day was different than the sadness his loved ones felt. I don’t doubt that at all.
His funeral was at a mega church and it was completely lovely! A lot of his homies showed up, I’m sure if he was looking down that he more than approved. For me personally though the scene itself is what made me cry. Nothing there looked or sounded like anything in Rusty’s hospital room, to put it simply none of it reminded me of him. The Bible hymns were beautiful ones and for all I know they were his faves, I’m sure they filled his family with love and fondness but a part of me waited through the whole service to hear one of those heavy songs I’d become so familiar with from across the hall.
Of course that never happened, church and metal don’t mix. I’m probably the only one who minded but it did seem wrong to me. I think that when we attend a funeral it is always difficult for us in different ways. We’re all saying goodbye but in a way we’re all saying goodbye to different things. The same person of course but different memories. Different characteristics. I was saying goodbye to a person who I very much give credit to for my own recovery. I was saying goodbye to someone I saw everyday for four months. I was saying goodbye to the person who taught me to love Metallica. I will never forget Rusty, in fact he runs through my mind a lot for a person I never really knew. His life reminds me to never stop surrounding myself with the things I enjoy and his death reminds me to give my all to everything I do, because even if it doesn’t end the way I’d hoped it might help others.