18 months 

A lot of people don’t like to be reminded of the bad things. But I do. Not just the bad things– the good things, too. I play them over like a tape in my mind. whirr whirr. I tell myself this is important. I need to. I need to review the events so I can see myself. I don’t want to forget the things that have happened. The things I’ve lived through. If I forget them, surely then I will forget the kind of girl I am. The person I can be. I replay them, rewind them, and pull the story out. Pull out the telling of it so I can make some sense of it. I’m always surprised. These things, we all have them. The things that make us feel a lot. The messy things. The momentous things. The squashy collection. We’re just not told to expect them, so we have a hard time preparing, so we have a hard time weathering the storm, and then when it’s over we have a bad habit of dropping it for the run. I think that’s why we don’t learn from our mistakes, and not just our own but the mistakes of those around us, those mistakes with the ripple effects that we feel even if we’re not guilty of causing the motion.

Reminds me of a talk I was having with my sister about our nephew. We {I} worry about him. Worry about my brother, his father, and his mother, my brother’s girlfriend. I can’t imagine being so young and having to be so responsible, and I worry, because that’s what I’m good at, especially in relation to my young siblings. I was worrying away, spewing out another stressor, when my sister reminded me, “He [the baby] knows. He chose his parents. He knew what he was getting into.” She caught me off guard. Telling me things I already know. Things I’ve already said to her. She is so wise sometimes. She knows just how to handle me. I stopped mid-sentence and stared off at the road for a second. The gray gravel melting into the gray sky, and I felt such relief. I nodded. You’re right. You’re right. Of course. He chose them, and he is doing such a good job with them. And they in turn, are going to try their flawed human teenage best with him, and what else is there really. Nothing else you can hope for or expect from the world, really. From one another.

I know you’re not supposed to, but I do get all sentimental, nostalgic. I do because I remember how he was. His humor, his laugh, his stillness.

Did I take for granted all those times we sat in a room together? No, I refuse the notion. Push it away.

I don’t understand it when I look at the pictures from that time. How we didn’t know. We felt like such a family when we got back. We had such a bond. I look at pictures from that time and I think how could it be that he is dead. He is dead and we are disbanded. 

And I’m fine. I don’t feel empty or lacking. I get a little sad when I remember, but usually I am full with the happy. The happiness of that time and the overall happiness our friendship brought to my life. How much positivity and love I felt during that time for the first time in a long time. The strange stability I felt even though it was the end of my tenure at Illinois and I should have been freaking out. But I didn’t freak. He was there and we spent time together. We found time in the craziness and how that made all the difference.

I can’t believe I felt so broken after he died. I hadn’t known grief before. I’m so glad I met his parents in July. How much that closed the gap. Completed the circle of grief. How much grief there was to be had. To feel.

I’m not afraid I will forget him because I knew him. I really knew him and that kind of familiarity doesn’t burn out, but I am surprised by how far away he feels. Part of me expected that to come with time but now it’s so tangible, the distance. The time that has passed since we interacted. The only realization stronger than the grief I experienced is how much I miss him. His presence. How much I will always miss him. I miss you so much, but I’m glad for all of it.


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