Wednesday, June 11, 2014

You Time-Travel in My Heart

Sometimes grief strikes in the most unexpected time or place. Just something makes you miss someone in a specific way that makes your stomach knot; because unlike missing someone who goes on vacation or gets a job out of town, you know that you just have to keep missing your person.

My person is my god brother, Andy. He and I were brought up together as babies. Our moms were pregnant together. His grandma babysat us. Our older sisters were best friends and obnoxiously made us get "married" over and over in ceremonies they'd officiate. He was my first and oldest friend.

A few Octobers ago he lost a battle with mental illness. Anyone who knows someone struggling with mental illness, especially bipolar disorder, knows that it's a dirty fight. Because how can you fight yourself so fiercely without painful consequences? His suicide cut one of the lines that tethered me to a nebulous concept of "this is who I am." Reconnecting with him had always been a touchstone of security and reassurance, no matter how long it had been between conversations.

This is the letter I wrote to him tonight. Because I miss him unexpectedly sometimes. Like when you were a kid and saw your teacher at the grocery store and got sort of confused and shocked, like, "What are you doing at the store?" So I wrote about it. To Andy.


To Andy:

It's definitely self-serving, but I like to draw on your memory whenever I need to feel "un-judged" recently. Like, I know there are things you would just laugh with me about instead of giving a disapproving cringe (like being so exhausted that I mistook one tube for another and started moisturizing my face with Thomas the Tank Engine toothpaste, or having the baby wear the same onesie for 3 days in a row because... it just kinda happened). 

I know I could share those things with you and then we'd both laugh and possibly even have a new inside joke about the curative properties of kids' toothpaste on the skin. And I miss that. 

And sometimes just knowing that you cared for me unconditionally before you died is enough, because miraculously, you loved so hard that it's like there's still some left and I can feel it years later. But sometimes it's not enough. It just aches. Like driving past a house where I used to live and having it feel simultaneously familiar and foreign. And the foreignness hurts. Knowing that I can never again envelop myself in the homey-ness and safety I once felt there, because everything that made it feel like "home" and "mine" isn't there anymore. And you'd get that, too. It's that kind of ache. Something so familiar that you can no longer access the same way. 

So I think about you. And you time-travel in my heart until I get to see you again.

- Me