Today, Chris, Ben, and I took a Zipcar to see Sausalito, Muir Woods’ redwood forest, Sonoma, and Napa. Inevitably to get from San Francisco to Napa, you have to take the Golden Gate Bridge. There’s really no way around it unless you want to take a very long roundabout way, which would wreak havoc on your car’s mileage, not to mention your gas bills. I knew at some point I’d have to deal with crossing that bridge again, but I didn’t realize exactly how difficult and awful it would be.
I thought I would have been fine. I have to see the bridge every time I’ve come home since Ed passed away. On a clear day, we have a far away but great view of the bridge from the front of our house. It’s obviously a beautiful bridge, a stunning sight in itself, and even more gorgeous when you see it in its entirety against the backdrop of the rest of the city skyline and the San Francisco Bay. It’s one of those sights that makes you think as a native, wow, I’m proud to be able to say I am from this city. It’s a place that gets photographers all crazy and makes wannabe amateur photographers even want to wet their pants. But for me, despite its apparent beauty, it will always be tainted.
As we drove across that bridge today, all I could think without even trying to think about it, was that my brother breathed his last breaths standing somewhere on this damn thing. He last viewed either Alcatraz or the Bay before he climbed over and jumped off. Which of these poles was he standing closest to? What was he thinking before he jumped, or did he completely block out any and all thoughts and become a total robot who just had to get this simple job done? Did he think about our parents, about me, at all? Who was the last person he made eye contact with, if anyone? Did anyone notice that he seemed a bit suspect walking up and down the bridge, and why didn’t anyone try to stop him?
I guess I wasn’t as “fine” as I thought I’d be. In fact, I was crying the entire time across the bridge and even past it. The pain will always be there, and there’s nothing I can really do about it. He’ll never come back, and I’ll never be able to do anything to reverse any of these events or try to help him again. A void will always linger, and this bridge will always be a reminder of his death, as beautiful as it is. It’s tragic.