Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ten years after

"I loved my friend.
He went away from me.
There's nothing more to say.
The poem ends
Soft as it began-
I loved my friend." --Langston Hughes

Today is the tenth anniversary of the date my best friend died. Despite my best efforts not to focus on this, it has been on my mind all week. (I call him my best friend because we were friends from age six on, and the whole concept of "best friend", for me, is very much something rooted in childhood...I have a number of amazing friends and they are all the best in whatever unique way they are. Really, he was more like a twin brother, emotionally speaking.) I think maybe this anniversary has been on my mind because it's two digits' worth of years he's been gone now, and a decade is a long, long time.

He was an absolutely amazing person, someone who still makes me laugh every day in memory. He was smart, sweet, goofy, and kind. I never laughed or cried harder with anyone before or since, and there was no one more fun to go dancing with. He remembered everything, even and especially if it was embarrassing, and he was an incredible mimic. He loved words and could make up parodies of songs at the drop of a hat. He loved classic Looney Tunes, "Dallas", "Golden Girls", and cowboys. He was a nurse by trade, and the letters and cards he had from the families of his patients would make Chuck Norris weep.

When we were both in our late 20s, he left a bad relationship and relocated cross-country, ultimately ending up helping me leave one of my own. After all that happened, he and I were roommates for a couple of years, and we had a fantastic time living together. I'll always, always be thankful for that experience.

I've been trying to write a book about his life and our relationship for the last ten-plus years. I was actually writing about the friendship years before he died, when I was in school getting my writing degree, and I always got positive feedback on that writing. I haven't ruled out fiction--I did publish one short story that was loosely based--but it somehow didn't feel right. Then I thought I would write a memoir--more his than mine--but in writing it, I found that it was as much or more my story as his, which has definitely stalled me at times. (I'm very inspired by Augusten Burroughs and Haven Kimmel's memoirs of themselves and other people at the same time--"A Wolf at the Table" and "She Got Up Off the Couch" in particular. "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt, too. Lots of them.)

So what I have done so far is just write a couple of pages--a vignette here or there, thinking I would try to get them out and put them together later. I feel like I can't write anything else until I get this story written. One day not long ago I wrote the following, thinking it would be the end of the book; maybe it should be the beginning, or maybe it's just me clearing my throat, in the literary sense, and it shouldn't be in there at all.

At any rate, I really wish you could have known him. The world is a better place because he was here for a while.


So much is different now, ten years after. So much is the same.

Since you’ve been gone, I’ve had a pedicure, been on a cruise, actually attended and mostly enjoyed a high-school reunion, been divorced, been remarried, had a tubal pregnancy and several miscarriages, had a hysterectomy, gained weight, lost weight, bought and sold a home, changed my address and my job three times, got some medication, lost a couple of cats, got a couple more cats, learned about good tequila, stopped giving a shit, and started giving a shit. I’ve hated myself and I’ve loved myself and I’ve become closer to some people and further away from others and I’ve found some peace, but there’s still so much that I seek and know I may never find. I think sometimes I could have been anything if I’d been born into a different family--but that, I’m afraid, is true of almost everyone who was ever born in the first place.

You never met the husband that I have now. He’s so laid back, gentle, kind, good, funny; I know you would have absolutely adored each other. In almost intangible, subtle, yet not at all creepy ways, he reminds me of you--but I also admit I make a conscious (or subconscious) choice to see you in everyone I hold dear.

At least once a day, I will laugh or become furious at something only you would understand. The world keeps moving, and everyone seems younger, more so all the time. The cracks under my eyes keep getting wider—and so does the rest of me, despite my best efforts to the contrary. I still can’t sleep properly. A lot of the time--perhaps more than I should--I feel really, really old, and really, really tired, so that hasn’t changed. But: I can still hear music, take a picture, smile at a dog, dance, laugh so hard my stomach hurts, give people goofy presents they would never buy themselves, watch bad TV, marvel at figure skating, savor chocolate, maybe even write some words that will, hopefully, mean something to someone besides me one day.

Above all else, I can still love. Most days, I want to live, and even feel lucky to be here. When it comes to your life, all the well-worn clich├ęs apply—your life was too short; a light went out; the good die young. You left forever—-maybe even on purpose. You took your freckles, your laugh, and your dance moves with you. But you know what else? You changed the world. You mattered.

Maybe that means I matter too.

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Seattle, WA, United States
This blog focuses largely on a personal journey to and through weight-loss surgery. It's also about reading, writing, animals, photography, love, humor, music, thinking out loud, and memes. In other words...life.
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