Five months later
Saturday marked five months since my boyfriend had passed. It doesn’t seem any easier than it was then, just different.
My mom and sister were in town visiting and when I mentioned that it had been five months, my mom asked if it felt like it had been longer. I said yes and no. Sometimes it’s like it just happened yesterday, or like it didn’t happen at all and he’ll come walking in the door any second. I can still hear his voice, see his face and smell his scent. I still have vivid, vivid flashbacks to waking up that morning that haunt me day in and day out.
But on the other hand, it’s like that whole year of my life wasn’t real; it’s like it never actually happened. It’s surreal. It’s like it was too good to be true. I had everything I ever wanted and it couldn’t have lasted.
Tonight I was unpacking and organizing some more and I came across my boyfriend’s bottle of cologne. I don’t know why, but smells are so powerful. I sniffed the nozzle and fell to the floor sobbing. I’m actually still sitting on the tile floor crying as I write this. I loved the way he smelled. It reminds me of his hugs and cuddling with him in bed. It was that scent he wore on our nights out, date nights and sexy nights. It was the last smell of his I ever got. As I sit here smelling the bottle I imagine his big arms engulfing me, my face pressed against his chest breathing him in. His smell is one of the last tangible things I have.
I owe a big thank you to all of my friends and family. They have done more for me these past five months than I can even express. The love from those close to me of course doesn’t surprise me, but it’s the outreach from people I’m not extremely close with that really touches me deep down. I’ve asked some of them if I can share their words with the blogging word and they were kind enough to consent. Here is just a small sampling of some of the kindest words people have shared with me recently.
“I just wanted to let you know I love you and I was thinking about you.”
– Text message last week from a former sorority sister I haven’t talked to in over a year
“I know we don’t really know each other all too well, but strangers or not, I find you to be such an inspiration. You are beautiful and shine and seem so optimistic and grateful for every moment in your life. I pray you find happiness often, and hope you are loving California. Keep beaming, girl.
I completely understand that each moment of loss is unique to the individual who experiences it, but I lost one of my best friends to suicide my sophomore year in college, and I understand the blend of confusion and debilitating pain, hurt, and anger that you must experience on a daily basis. I still miss her everyday, but just know that as the seconds, days, and years go by, it truly will get easier to rediscover your sense of identity after losing someone who at one time or another seemed to be an extension of yourself. Sure we’ll never stop missing loved ones who die far too young, but as time passes, the nostalgia will transform from something painful into something pleasant.
My loss was so debilitating that were it not for the constant outpouring of love I received from friends, family, and even strangers, I would probably still be curled in bed too emotionally numb to move.
That’s why I feel as though it is so necessary for you to know how incredibly loved you are. Though I really don’t know you outside of a few circumstances, I know so many people who know you all the way through to your soul, and each and every time they’ve mentioned you, they’ve praised you and talked about your outstanding strength and your external and internal beauty. And for as ugly as an act of suicide is, don’t ever feel guilty to take some unexpected good from this heartbreak. So many people in life don’t ever realize how loved and appreciated they are in life, but now hopefully you’re getting even a slight glimpse of how special and needed you are in so many people’s lives. 🙂 Revel in the acknowledgement that you have friends – Jordan, Jesse, Kate, etc etc etc – who would do ANYTHING for you!
And thanks for the Cali offer! I may just have to take you up on it when the trees in Michigan soon become brittle little skeletons.”
– Facebook message a couple weeks ago from a lovely lady I’ve only actually met in person a few times
“I spent some time reading your beautiful blog after meeting you at PSO in Portland, and just wanted to let you know that it is beautiful. so lovely for you to share your experiences and i think you have so much wisdom to share. I have continued to read your blog and feel so amazed. your experiences sound so intense and raw — sharing it through your writing is beautiful. reading your blog makes me feel really, really grateful for my relationship with my own partner and it reminds me how essential it is to Treasure each moment with people (not only partners).
i hope that you are surrounded by love and goodness!”
– An email from my roommate at AmeriCorps training in Portland
“Dude. I love you so much! I was thinking about you this evening at work and wanted to say hello. Please call me and tell me what’s good-e. Or email, facebook, etc. You know us midwesterners like our phone messages. Anywho get at me. I miss your face!”
– A middle-of-the-night-but-still-heartfelt-text message from a dear friend of mine from high school
“I know I wasn’t able to get to know u the way I wish we could have. I just wanted to say I hope ur enjoyin cali and all the awesomeness that is there.”
– A Facebook message I got last week from a high school friend of my boyfriend. We had only met once in person about four or five days before he died
“Sorry I haven’t stayed in touch or sent you any well wishes with everything you have been going through, but I don’t think a wall post on Facebook can properly convey the condolences that I feel for you. You have always been in my prayers, and I hope everything is going well for you, as hopefully time is healing your wounds.
I can’t say that I know exactly how tough a situation like that is, but I’m sure you know with what happened to Mike’s dad, I have some sort of perspective. His family has always had a special place in my heart; they are our neighbors, and his dad was my little league coach, a father figure, and a good friend who always had a kind word and encouragement for me whenever we passed each other.
How I handled my own grieving process in such a horrible event that I have never dealt with before lead me to respect your situation and give you the proper space and time to take care of your own mourning. In the span of a few weeks I saw three very good friends who I love lose people they love, and I couldn’t imagine that I could say or do anything, other than constantly pray, to lessen the pain.
It seemed that, for the first time in my existence, life came around and slapped me in the face and told me to appreciate what I have; my girlfriend, my family, and my friends. I feel fortunate to have people to love, and love me, so that no matter what there is comfort in that. I now constantly look back on conversations or interactions that I have had with special people like you that give me the support to get through adversity no matter how bad. When I think about your smile, your passion, or your never-ending optimism, it gives me encouragement that no matter what happens in this life I will be ok. People like you are what makes this life so beautiful, and you have showed me that even in the darkest times there is hope.
I love you, and I know that you are still the same magnificent person you were when we last saw each other. I have no doubt that you are.
Hopefully that makes sense to you, as I have done a lot of personal psychological reflection in the last few months, which is almost impossible to put into words.
Have a good week, hopefully I will be seeing you soon.
Love you Al.”
– A Facebook message from a close friend in high school. We had lost touch and hadn’t seen each other in over a year
“Oh herro!! Seriously it was so awesome to meet you @ the house … you were totally the perfect person to meet for me to think ‘Wow, this is a house I’m seriously going to fit in at.’ You’re so cute and silly and seriously the most beautiful give I’ve met … I don’t know how many times I can use the word seriously in a note. I’ll write you a more/less drunk one later. I love you beautiful girl. I wish you so much success.
I mean it 110% when I say you are one of the most beautiful people I have met, inside and out. You have an amazing future ahead of you! I love you, babygirl! You deserve every awesome thing coming your way.”
– Note to me at my graduation party from a lovely lady I had just met about nine months earlier
And the one that never fails to make me cry and feel better at the same time …
I wish I could say I remember the first time we met vividly, but I don’t. I will say I remember that night – it was my 8th grade dance (allegedly). I will never forget our mutual friend. A young lady nicknamed (or maybe double reversed nicknamed) “The Devil” by her best friend’s mom. So I literally just realized why you turned out the way you did. *Written before I knew of your rituals. Call me Ms. Cleo.* Although I think of you more as a hobgoblin or a wizard than a devil. I do however remember the first time I remember meeting you … I was browsing Match.com and saw your beautiful face … and tits. Just kidding. Your tits are just okay. J We met in high school. While they made the brilliant decision to let a 20 year old become a substitute teacher, not even four years out of high school. SO stupid and we had some stupid times together because of it. I will never forget you being a typical senior coming to visit me in classrooms you weren’t in. I also recall feeling like an ass when I mistook your birthmark for an abusive boyfriend. Let it be known the offer still stands – I will fuck up any abusive bf, even if I have to fly to L.A. to do it. I also remember you attending my 21st birthday party and I had a feeling we would end up friends. (After you “deleted your Match.com” account.)
Fast forward to the end of the school year. For many reasons, I will never forget the day after I lost my 1st close friend to heroin. I can’t remember the details, but I can tell you an AlleyCat69 sent me an AIM offering condolences, and a bunch of other advice. The one piece I do remember is grieving takes a long time. Stephen Colbert would be blown away by the “truthiness” of this statement. When I lost my second close friend to the same stupid drug, I wasn’t over the previous loss. I’m getting better but sometimes we never fully recover. This doesn’t mean we have to be unhappy or live unfulfilled lives, but you and I will always have many “what if” questions in our lives. But the most important question is, “What would they say if they could talk to us today?” I hate and hesitate to put words in the mouths of those no longer with us, but I know how I love. And I know the way my friends love. And true love means you want the person to be as happy as they possibly can be – even if they can’t be in your life. Anyone who has cared about you (I understand I’m one of a great many), wants you to be as happy as you possibly can be. As someone who cares, I will be honest and tell you that you can be happy but it may take some time. It takes some work but tragedy and hardship can make our lives more meaningful. Ask Frederick Douglas. Ask Helen Keller. Ask Lou Gehrig. Ask that cancer survivor that tried to run across Canada. (I’m pissed my 21st Century brain can’t remember his name.) As recently as a few weeks ago you gave me advice that potentially changed my life. You have so much to offer the world. You are one of those rare people who has inner beauty equal to their outer beauty. You will influence some lives if you can just get through this. You have helped me so much here is my best attempt at helping you. When things get too much to bear, for better or for worse, write it out. You may hate it later, but even bad writing helps you understand things a little more. I started filling these pages with my innermost thoughts, finish them. Show them to the world. Show them to me. Or keep them to yourself, but fill them. My students were impressed when I wrote a paragraph in their yearbook. I hope this meant as much for you reading it as it did to me writing it. I jokingly said I still thought of you as one of my kids and I genuinely do, but what I didn’t tell you is our relationship is one in which the line between teacher and student is non-existent. If I have taught you half as much as you have taught me, I am one hell of a good teacher. It pains me to mention that there is one day neither of us will forget. I remember before finalizing my decision to come out I wanted to make sure I wasn’t still sad and socially awkward from my loss. I still was. I know I didn’t know him, but I could tell how much he influenced your life, before I even met him. Hearing you talk about him I hear things that make me appreciate him more. We also discussed obstacles you may have in future relationships. Here is one piece of advice I can stand behind – never be afraid of another nice guy. Sure we might return txts within a 24 hour period and not have any STDs, but we really are better than scumbags out there. If I can ever be there for you, I will drop whatever I’m doing to take your call or a call from whatever area code you might be in. The same I’d do for Kristin. The same I’d do for Tara. “In closing I’d like to say I’ve been given a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for.” Lou Gehrig -GW”
– A letter from an incredible man who means more to me than he’ll ever know (until now because he’ll most likely read this). I’m so lucky to be able to call him my friend.
This is just a snippet of the love I’ve received lately, and I can’t express how deep my gratitude runs. These words have brought me so much light in a darkened world that they are my guide to happiness. Remember to tell the people you love how much you do in fact love them. And remember, when your heart feels empty, open it to others and they will fill it.
I love you guys. ❤