(Originally written and posted on Facebook October 8, 2017)
Last year, it was on Saturday. We had no grand plans of celebration – it was just the two of us and a shared pizza and it was exactly as it was supposed to be. There was a man with a guitar and a microphone and at times our conversation stopped so we could listen to a song, the lyrics supplementing our own words. We talked about loss. Loss of parents, loss of love. We talked about depression and the cunning perspective shift it has on our minds. How it will drape the world around us in grey until we forget what color looks like. We talked about death. We talked about suicide. (This is what eats at me in the still moments that come in between the hours of everyday life. We talked about it and I know you knew it wasn’t the way out.) We talked about last chances and the pain of letting go what did not belong to us. We talked about our debts – not the financial kind though God knows we both had plenty of those, but the pieces of ourselves we owed to others. How to relieve them, how to avoid getting in too deep.
I look back at that night and see your clock set at four thirty. That was the thing, you see. We had time. Time to follow the tangled strings of our lives and see where it lead us. Time to heal our hearts, time to make our amends. Time to make up for the wasted years of our twenties spent in addiction and sorrow. Time to find our way and ourselves. Time to be happy. Your clock was at four thirty. We didn’t know that you would pick up your clock and turn the hands to midnight. That was later. On this night, we had time.
We left the pizza and the music and the deep conversation and returned to my place, where we drank coffee and did a puzzle, watched silly YouTube videos and listened to Christmas music – because we both loved all those things. We laughed a lot. We laughed until the early hours of the morning because neither of us wanted the night to end. It had started with the bitter taste of pain in our mouths and ended with hope as light as a feather. We were going to be okay – in fact, we were going to fly. The balance of it all is what made this such a perfect and beautiful night. It was not the last good night we had, but it stands out so sharply in my memory and I would give up days of my future if I could re-live this one night of my past.
I am stumbling without you. I cry myself to sleep some nights, even as I count off the things I am grateful for. This isn’t getting easier – in fact it’s harder than it ever was and often I am afraid. My own clock ticks loudly in the background, matching the rhythm of my beating heart. It ticks words like “Stay” and “Love” and “Always”. I listen to it and resolve to do those things. I will Stay, I will Love. Always. I love you. You were the kind of friend I prayed for in my darkest times and was lucky enough to find. We found each other. Happy birthday, happy birthday to you.