Death And Bar-B-Que

A friend of my husband’s family, my brother-in-law’s best friend, died over the weekend. He was young, barely into his 30s. I didn’t know him well, so I’m in that slightly removed position where you are sad that someone is gone, but more sad for all of the people around you who are devastated. I’m sad for his parents and I’m sad for my brother and sister in law who feel like they’ve lost a brother.

J wasn’t married, didn’t have kids, and hadn’t had any long-term relationships. Romantic relationships anyway, because he had all of the friends he’d had his whole life.

He was an only child and because his parents live about 3 hours away, my in laws and his friends were his family. Last night, I watched people gather in my in law’s yard around a bar-b-que pit. Men who had grown up with J and still lived in our small home town. My brother-in-law cooking after driving hundreds of miles to come home to be with family. Cold beer or iced sweet tea in guys’ hands, laughing, telling stories, getting quiet. Swatting mosquitoes and talking about kids.

My father-in-law talking about having these same boys sleeping all over his living room all the time and eating all of the food from their fridge every other day. My mother-in-law with her phone in her pocket, waiting for a call from J’s mother, waiting to comfort and to cry. For the man who was another son. Jumping when the call came and tears starting with the first word. My sister-in-law avoiding looking across the field to J’s house because she expects him to be walking over.

Standing for hours in the dark that you only get in the country, the only light from the porch so that when you walk you hope you don’t step in a hole or on a snake. Talking, laughing and going quiet.

Tucking the overtired and cranky toddler into his car seat for the ride home. We all smelled of bar-b-que smoke when we fell into bed. And we’ll stand around the same pit tonight when J’s parents arrive. Talking, laughing and going quiet.


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  1. It’s an interesting situation when someone your loved ones love so much dies. My Dad’s best friend passed away when I was 14 and although I knew him well and spent a lot of time around him as a child he was not my best friend, you know? Enjoy your time together as friends and family of J. xo

    1. Elaine~Thanks for stopping by. It is strange to watch the whole ritual of mourning too, when you’re not as close. Lots of hugging going on though 🙂

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