It’s been two years, two months, and approximately seven days since we first heard the news.
We weren’t best friends, or even particularly close friends. What I do know though, is that being on an online platform–where a few lines of html, SQL scripts, and code, become a diary, and a way out–creates a space where strangers know more about us than the people in our lives. If you were still here today, if you could still hug your son, or speak to your husband, I would tell you that in this space many of us have created for ourselves, there will come a time when we can slowly go through each post, and with each post, we will find a piece of ourselves that we have lost, or one that we have yet to find. From those short lines, or that one verbose, sordid post where we laid bare our souls, we will look at it, and think, “I cannot believe I made it this far.” Then, in time to come, we will even say that we can not fathom how we moved from the world where pain, and darkness were everything, to one where we understood that they are only a fraction of what we could feel.
Since I’ve last known you, and read your words, I’ve lost my own words, but lately, things that remind me of you, have been showing up in my life. So, I thought I would wrestle with my word loss for a few minutes, to say that I wish you had made it into this year. I wish you were still here to realise how many miles you’d travelled in this journey, and how much of that journey would slowly become something you once hoped for. No, I will not, and I would not have said that the journey would get easier, or that it would fail to hold its power over you, but I would have said, that you did have the strength to move through it. Sometimes, it is a matter of making it through every second, and then every minute, and finally every hour, until the days begin to move at a regular pace again. I don’t know why I chose to address this post to you, or why, when I first heard of your death, I chose to address that post to you–for my beliefs teach me that death is a sweet sleep, one in which you feel and know nothing until the time to wake has come again; yet, I do not think that this post could have been complete without me writing it to you–for it is yours in the only way I know to offer something to someone I care about.
There were many things that influenced your choice, and we will never really know which one was the straw that broke the camel’s back. What we do know, those of us that cared about you, is that at each step of the way, you fought it all tooth and nail, and to those that secretly called you a coward for your choice, I hope in time they put away the shell that covers their hearts, and take time to understand. Understanding is what saves lives. Companionship is what keeps those of us who are drifting, grounded. Not big gestures. Not fancy words. Just knowing that there is one person who we can talk to without talking, that will grasp at least a minute amount of the whirlpool that swirls within us. True, it cannot stop everything, for the final decision rests with us, but often, a bit of flotsam floating nearby, is all that’s needed to keep our heads above water.
To you, and the many parts that were a part of you,
From the unfragmented, but many parts that are a part of me.
The Honorary Member of the Sugar Clouds Club.
To Laughter, and Cotton Candy.
I am not going to write another post about you. About how much I loved you, but how I afraid I was that I did not love you enough. I will not confess all the things you did that made me so angry I wanted to break things, or that made me so happy I wanted to dance. Instead, I’ll say things like “I am so scared of my role in my new job; the anxiety that comes from knowing that there is much that can go wrong, and that the responsibility is all mine; the insecurity of not knowing if anything I am doing is just right, or if everything I’ve done is so wrong.” I’ll talk about how when I’m nervous, or upset, or if something has triggered me, I’ll tug on my ear, and bite my nails. I’ll even throw in a tidbit about how much I love to take the band off my hair, and play with the hard, kinky spirals my mother and I once spent so many years straightening. On occasion, I may talk about how angry I was when I felt that I’d been there for the people I cared about, but how it felt like I could never turn to them the year I let everything go, and crashed. Maybe, I’ll even bring up the “dark” year. The one in which rolling out of bed made me want to cry for the futility of it all. Or perhaps, I’ll go a step further, and confess that–when the pain went away, and all I felt was numbness–I wanted to hurt me. I needed to hurt me. Just to be sure I was still alive. That I was still capable of feeling something. Even if it was almost the blade of a knife I’d held over the flames on my stove. What do I know, is that I will not. I will not write another ridiculous post about frustration and anger; disappointments and expectations; forgiveness and uncertainty; love and understanding; that features you, because I don’t think you ever truly did anything to deserve it. So no, I will not write another post for you. And if on a whim, I catch one verse, one line, one lyric, one poetic phrase flittering out my fingers, I will turn away from it. And, if you ever truly knew me, you’d know, forgetting an iota of what I’ve written, letting go when the words are calling, is one of the hardest things for me to do.
K.N.O.W. Pour le quatorze janvier.
(A promise I reneged on because it stymied my creative process. Well then. -_-)
“Hey.” “What?” “Don’t listen to them. They…”
I walked away. I wanted to say something. I wanted to tell her that their words didn’t matter; that she didn’t have to listen to them; that she shouldn’t let them affect her; but I walked away. Fitting in with the silent crowd –jam-packed in their anonymity, shielded by their headphones– and remaining invisible among the faceless symbols of diversity, was all I could think about doing. I didn’t want to be a part of anything. I didn’t want to hear, or converse, or befriend, or help; I wanted to go home. I wanted to get out of those tunnels, and stay wrapped easily in my comfort zone. That place where I neither reach out, nor let in. Yet, as I sat in that train, I somehow managed to become involved. A blur of movement had caught the corner of my eye, and I noted a thin, strangely underweight adolescent girl posed in defiance at the doors of the train. Strange, I mused. Here was someone oddly enthusiastic to leave the train–there were, after all, a few more stations to pass before the express train found its port. I regarded her in curiosity, trying to understand what had occurred. I saw the frailty of her limbs, and the unnaturally sharp angles of her body–a judgmental thought passing through my mind, as I came to recognise her posture (arm at her waist, feet extended in a runway pose, head jutting forward), and eventually the reason for her figure. And of course, I did nothing.
Over the years, I’ve found myself trapped in this little sphere, where I see the world, and I observe the people around me, but I can’t seem to interact with them. Sure, I’ve gotten better at faking the right level of social intimacy, I’ve even fooled myself into thinking that I fit in somewhere. That I’ve been accepted for who I am, quirks, insecurities, and impassive face included. And yet, standing at that precipice, where I was once again on the proverbial fence, and knowing that at different points of my life, I had been both the victimiser, and the victim in the use of cruel taunts, and torts, I couldn’t move. Here was someone who was obviously hurting. Here was an individual whose pain was expressed through her weight, in the way mine had been through my compulsion to read, but all I did do was sit. True, in my sitting, I wasn’t exactly idle. I thought of ways to tell her that she did not have to let their cruelty define her afternoon’s ride. I–and this is me being kind to myself–“struggled” between exposing myself to their taunts, and their unfortunately unkind behaviour towards this thin girl, with her defiant face, and her fight against humiliation. However, when the train finally stopped, and there was no more time left to convince myself that I would get out, and say something on my way that could either make or, improve her day, I walked away. She turned left, and I turned right. It was almost surreal, an ad in a public service announcement of what not to do when we see bullying occurring. All those YouTube videos, and movies where I was appropriately outraged, and inexplicably distraught at the plight of some undeserving victim’s situation, and I walked away.
Later, when I made my way home on the bus, and I sat unobtrusively in my seat, I realised a lot of things. One, that was not the first time I’d seen her on the train at my station. I’d been rushing to get out the station when I’d seen her painfully thin ankles swimming in her sneakers, and had my first judgmental thought. Two, I was no better than any of those girls who mocked, and teased her with a body image she was already struggling with. Three, I had a friend I cared about who is making efforts to overcome the anorexia I feared the girl on the train was dealing with. I know if she had returned home, and posted online of dealing with a situation like that, where no one in a compartment full of people had stepped in, I would have remained anguished for ages at the complacency of “those evil, inconsiderate” silent others. Four, just like that depressed girl I rode the bus with to work every morning, may be if I’d spoken to her, instead of praying for forgiveness for my lapse in action, I would be praying for insight into how to befriend, and help them. I did keep praying that maybe I would see either of them again, so that I could do something for once, but there’s a reason they say, there are three things you cannot regain, “The spent arrow, the harsh word, and the lost opportunity.”
I find it is always so easy to fall back into this comfortable pattern. The one where I pretend there was never a pause, and where you escape with nary a harsh word.
Always with the extremes.