When Richard went missing it was really weird. It was the weirdest emotional experience of my life. I felt, and I felt like I didn’t feel–like I was watching myself. Like I was going through the motions of a grieving friend. I spent 5 days completely unaware, and another 10 days knowing he was gone, but holding out a tiny iota of hope that maybe he wasn’t gone. When I heard the Brazilian authorities had given up the search, it was like hearing he was missing all over again, but worst because I knew I had to desert all the hope I had bundled up and stored away in the corner of my chest. I have never felt nor expressed such sadness. The kind of sadness that turns you into a zombie, that engulfs you in a sea of mind-numbing weightlessness while turning your limbs so heavy and your skin so thick you forget how to move and wear and be. I had no practiced reactions to such conflicting feelings and sensations.
It was weirder still because I could feel him around all the time. Once I was made aware, he came to me in a way I could have never anticipated, and we tapped into our bond in a way I didn’t expect. He confirmed for me so much that I didn’t know I was questioning. I could feel him in the closet when I got home from work. I could sense him in the living room when I fell asleep in the dark of my bedroom. I would close my eyes and dream about him. Share in his experiences. His newfound realizations beyond the space where I cannot follow. He showed me that he was safe and ready in the first dream. He showed me how it felt to drown in the second dream. He came and hung out in the third dream–reminded me how he could make me laugh. He showed me memories and feelings from his childhood, from his brief time as an independent college student–sometimes lonely, mostly not. He showed me things he had learned about me. Feelings he knew I had felt and memories he knew were important to me. Relationships I had built and invested in. He showed me slowly that he was moving on, away, and that I would too.
He led me to his hometown. He led me to his parents. He watched as I watched–knowing I would see what he meant as I passed the time in his city, walking his streets and eating his foods and making small talk with his family.
And I felt him go, day by day. So slowly it was hard to acknowledge, hard to accept that he was really going to leave this time.
And now it’s been two years, and I don’t feel him around at all. Not the faintest detection of his presence. Nowhere near and nowhere far. Poof, like Puff the Magic Dragon. He doesn’t visit me in my dreams. He doesn’t sit around so I won’t feel alone. I made my way down the side of the mountain of grief. Made my way home to here, and I feel good about it. I feel accomplished and in some way, sated. Sated for having felt the strangeness of the grief, for acknowledging it, and for pulling through it. Sated that he came, he helped, he left. That something beautiful and inexplicable was borne of something so freakishly, unexpectedly tragic.
Happy that we are both happy 2 years since.