I’ve been thinking about synchronicity of life lately and, perhaps because of a lack of my usual dose of antidepressant medication, grief and the process a person goes through dealing with it. In case you haven’t seen this picture before this is a picture of Mary Todd Lincoln taken sometime after Pres. Lincoln’s death by assassination. Some people are adamant that the white blur is Lincoln’s ghost. Others are equally certain that the photographer doctored the picture which could have been done even in that day and age. I prefer to believe that Lincoln was doing the best he could do to comfort a distraught wife, whose mental health had been severely shaken by her husband’s dramatic and untimely death on top of the death of one of her children.
I find I have a lot of empathy for Mrs. Lincoln. Grief can be a long dark hole to climb out of. Several years ago I lost a friend to Lyme disease and even though I have continued on I would be foolish to tell myself that I had done much healing. Until recently. So to continue the tradition of putting emotionally big, scary things in writing rather than not saying them at all, I wrote letters to them both, one to my deceased friend, and one to the living man who sometimes speaks with such a similar voice that it is very eerie.
You stole my heart at 14 and never gave it back. I never meant to love you. I tried to hate you . I really did. You weren’t hearing any of it. You made space for me in your life. You made the ordinary and mundane special and the special extraordinary You were the first person without my last name who made time and effort for me as a matter of course. You were, and to date still are, the only guy who has driven to where I was living at the time and said “we’re going somewhere” just because you wanted to, no special request or reason required. I should have stolen a kiss the day we went to Cracker Barrel, pushed us off the ledge we had been walking for 10 years. I bet we would’ve flown, at least for a while. I grew so much because of you, and if its been a little harder to breathe now that your gone ifa little pain is the price I pay for having known you at all I’m ok with that.
Then life has a way of sneaking a reminder of the past in the back pocket of your
most worn pair of jeans, folded up small like a half forgotten receipt or a note you got passed leaving class. The barest whisper of cologne or soap, The I love yous never quite spoken but actions that say it in foot high letters from a sky writer in neon colors.
I can’t remember if I ever said outright that I was in love with my teacher friend. I may have, goodness knows we talk about everything under the sun and back again. If I didn’t it wouldn’t surprise at all if you figured it out. When I found out he’d died I was quite literally sick. Since then well my world went quieter. Not silent but a whole lot quieter. Then you showed up and something I hadn’t realized was still broke has really started to heal instead of being haphazardly stitched together by the passage of time. Anybody who has known me for a while can tell you that religion and I do not make easy bedfellows. I do believe that people come into each others lives at the exact moment they are needed I believe you were sent to help me heal in a way no one could. It’s in a half dozen things you’ve said, the least of which is that math doesn’t hate me. We talk about anything and everything and occasionally I’ll get an image him watching our conversation and I’ll look in time to see him wink or smile, or smother a laugh. He’ll catch my eye for just a second and walk away and I always get an impression of See I wasn’t going to leave you alone, you’ll be ok. He’s right.