Simon Played Keyboard

Almost everyone who is attending the party has gathered around the bonfire. The luminaries that people have created are lined up on a table near the fire, the tea light candles inside each illuminating the art on the outside. Fittingly, Steven is the first to speak. “This is for Leon, and for Simon.” He pauses. “Simon played keyboard.” I smile sadly.

One by one, each person takes their luminary, speaks a few words, and throws it into the fire. I wait until those who were closest to the deceased have gone before I make my own statement. First, I look around the circle, pausing for just a split second on each person’s face, and quote a popular song: “We are family.” Then, in a more concise echo of the words Steven had shouted earlier that night, I add, “So, fucking act like it.” I’d meant to say more, to announce my decision to print an article in the Times and my wish to do more, but my throat closes up and my breath catches. Instead, I take a deep breath, toss my luminary into the fire, and step back to let someone else speak.

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