I don’t really know where to start, as it’s been a really long time since I’ve written about this. Time has a great way of making you move forward. During hard moments, you think that life will stand still for the rest of your life. And I guess in some ways it does for a while, but then it doesn’t. But, you have that hook that holds you to that former place and reminds you of what you lost, and where you’ve gone because of it.
I looked out the window today on this cloudy October Saturday, and it felt a little similar to the one of 17 years ago when my friends died. I was 18 years old – a lifetime ago, in my eyes. I truly don’t ever feel like an 18-year-old about 99% of the time. But somehow on this day, that part of me comes back up and sits with me – and we just think and remember.
A few months ago, Lea opened my bedside table drawer and asked “Daddy, who deees?”
The deees she was referring to was an old picture of my friend that my friend Catherine took. The picture used to be framed and sitting next to my bed for years and years, but time and moving from place to place made the frame break, and I didn’t want to lose the picture.
“That’s Daddy’s friend Erin, my love.” And I left it at that.
My friend Erin – a sentence I hadn’t articulated in a really really long time. Even articulating that to my 2-year-old made me choke up a little.
Some things don’t go away, I guess.
I make no claims whatsoever that she was my best friend in life, or that we were inseparable. I make no claims to being at the top of the food chain of friends where her life was concerned. What she was to me was someone whom I spent the greater part of my young life with – she was just simply my friend – someone I laughed with, someone who could annoy the shit out of me A LOT, someone I used to act with and share thoughts with, someone (on one occasion) I babysat with, someone I would hang out with on every Saturday evening and who would gladly kick my ass if I was in the wrong in any way – and ultimately she was someone who I cared about and loved. And when she died, it was as though that part of my life died also.
She went from someone I took for granted in my young, immature life, to the subject of countless poems in endless spiral books and the subject of many strange dreams. I clung to her memory every moment that I could, thinking that if I didn’t then perhaps our entire friendship didn’t really exist either. What life has taught me thus far, was that I didn’t need to cling hard because it was a precious part of life made up of many facets that would never go away. And it didn’t need to be proved or reinforced because I know what it was – and I think she does also. 🙂
When I first met my wife, there were two things that I told her about that I feel have defined the person that I am – the loss of my father and Heather and Erin. I talked to her about how losing them somehow made me understand what it meant to lose my father, (which was something I had subconsciously felt the entire time), though the difference being that I knew the two of them and not him.
And she listened, and she knows how painful it all remains and lets me kind of be immersed in it because there’s no escape sometimes when this rolls around every year.
I still think about them. There are fleeting memories that will permeate my mind on any given day that will make me reminisce of a time that truly does not exist anymore. And I love those memories.
Modern life is amazing. There are two things that are transcendent when it comes to connecting yourself to a moment these days: social media and children. I’ll start with the obvious.
Children just have a way of mending any wounds you may have psychologically and allow you, as the parent, to give yourself a kick in the ass and make a positive impact in your little one’s life. What Lea has taught me will always be superior than the vice versa scenario. She is my metaphoric band-aid and though I will never thrust this intentionally onto her – she has definitely, in her magical bright light way, made me see that there is a greater love that exists in the world.
Social media is a strange and beautiful thing. It has allowed people to join together in different moments to show our likeness and sometimes our differences. What I read about how Heather and Erin touched a huge amount of people – people I didn’t even think it would even hit their radar – it floors me. Losing them was not an isolated thing, but rather a real game changer for so many people other than myself. And it makes me smile to think that their brief, shiny and beautiful lives touched so many more than I imagined.
So, yes it is another cloudy day where I wax nostalgia and I may even shed a tear. But I will also smile – because I miss them and love them both – and because they have fueled me and saved me in so many ongoing ways that I am so grateful for.