My friend Christina lost her son this week.

Andrew was 34. He played all types of games — video, board, RPG, D&D, everything. He loved Disney, and theme parks, and superheroes. My most vivid memory of him is calling him in to adjudicate a battle in Superfight. He wasn’t playing, probably because he had to work, but he had passionate opinions about which superheroes would be superior in a face-to-face conflict.

I’ve got other memories of him, too — a conversation about learning to cook for other people while in the kitchen one day; laughing with his mom about which media mom she most resembled on the back porch when he’d just moved to Florida; a long afternoon spent playing a game that became a catchphrase for awful; and lots of meals. So many meals. Christina loves to cook and feeding people is her love language, so Andrew and I sat next to one another at more than one feast over the years. I hate that we will never do so again, just hate it.

And I am so incredibly sad for Christina. I want to get on a plane right now and cry all the way to Florida so that I can give her a hug. If I thought that hug would make anything any better, I’d do it, but it wouldn’t, of course. I’m not sure there’s anything that could.

It feels unreal, though. Not surreal, not like reality is twisted, but unreal, like of course that couldn’t have happened. Of course that can’t be true. Of course this isn’t real. It is, though. Every day, she has to wake up into this new reality that is just wrong. Truly so very wrong.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Christina’s immense loss has left me thinking a lot about my own son. I used to want to reach out to him all the time. I’d cook something good and think, “Oh, I should tell R about this,” or read an article and want to share it, or laugh about something the dog did and remind myself to remember it for our next phone call. That’s been over for a pretty long time. I still think of him every day, but I haven’t had to resist the urge to call or message him for… well, probably not since he called me whatever it was, an emotionally stunted creep or something like that. But this time… I just wanted to hear the sound of his voice. I just wanted to feel the visceral certainty that he is alive from an actual interaction, real words, responsiveness. I didn’t even try, though. I didn’t choose this estrangement, so there’s no point in me trying to un-choose it. I wish him well, though, wherever he is, however he is. I hope that he’s happy and thriving and… well, alive. Really, today, that feels like almost enough. Alive is so much better than the alternative.

I am so very sad for Christina.