“What tender days, we had no secrets hid away
Well, it seemed about a hundred years ago.”
–The Rolling Stones
It’s been a year now since you died, and I’m left wondering: did you wake up knowing that this day, February 9, 2008 would be the last day you lived and breathed on the planet? Did you know in your heart that your poor abused body wouldn’t be able to withstand even one more night? Or was this day simply one of many days, stretched out into weeks and yawning into years?
I guess I’ll never know.
I’m shocked, I suppose, that even a year later, my grief still feels so fresh and new. The loss of you as a soul on Earth reminds me very much of when I got my wisdom teeth out. I know you’d remember that if you were here. That day that you tried to bring me a card and flowers but ended up one street apart from my house, where, by some miracle, another Becky lived. I remember how that made us laugh over shared cigarettes and cups of endless coffee. Because, what are the chances of THAT happening?
Remember how long it took me to recover from having those four simple teeth out? Four malignant teeth that required breaking my jaw and ripping my cheeks to remove. For weeks afterwards, without thinking, I’d shove the tip of my tongue into those holes into my jaw where my teeth once were, and I was always so shocked by the sudden electric and metallic jolt that jumped through my head painfully.
It was as though my brain was painfully reminding me of something that days before had JUST BEEN THERE. Those four teeth had been there for so long that I’d come to take them for granted. Forgotten until removed. If I didn’t remember about the gaping holes in my jaw, they’d still throb dully, but to have my tongue dip in and out was sudden and exquisite pain, and it was something I couldn’t seem to stop doing.
My grief over your death reminds me of this. Dull and sharp pain that’s unable to be touched no matter how much time passes. It always hurts, but now and again something will remind me of you and it’s like chewing on tinfoil. Why NO, I can’t call you and tell you about, well, anything. I can’t call you to catch some coffee or a drink. I’ll never hear your voice again. Ever. And it hurts just as badly as it did one year ago.
I imagine that it always will. There will always be a gaping hole where you used to be.
For as guilty as I normally feel about things that I have no control over, I’m shocked that I don’t feel badly that I didn’t do more to prevent your death. It would have been pointless and I knew it then and I know it now. I’ve had enough experiences with addiction to know better than to assume that an addict will simply start to listen just because *I* said so.
What I do feel guilty about is that I never got the chance to tell you how much you meant to me. It would have been weird to try and talk to you about feelings and shit because we were SO not like that, but I wish like crazy that I’d tried. Now I can never tell you about how much I admired you. How much I wanted to be more like you. How your laugh still makes me smile and crinkle when I remember how it sounded, ringing out through the room. How proud you made me to be your friend.
Trust me when I tell you how sorry I am that I never told you any of this. It will probably be one of the biggest regrets I have in my life.
But I will remember you. Always. I’ll remember your kindness. Your ability to stick up for me when everyone else went the PC all-bullshit route, something I’ll never forget. I’ll remember celebrating good things with you while mourning the bad and laughing at everything in between. I’ll remember your fierce love of your two young sons, who will never live to know just how amazing their mother was.
Because how can you possibly capture who someone just was by words alone? It’s simple: you can’t. I can’t tell The Internet how amazing and awesome and sweet and funny you are without sounding like a trite cliche. My friend died, therefore I must sound like an ass trying to tell you why it still hurts so fucking much. I know I don’t need to justify it by telling other people what made you so special, what made you so unique, and yet I’m unable to stop myself.
If one person, if only ONE person can walk away and say “hey, now that must have been one hell of a chick,” maybe it won’t hurt so much. Maybe I can refract some of the pain.
But now I’m afraid that I’ve reached that ugly and nebulous area where I prattle on and on saying nothing while trying to say everything, a victim of too little sleep and too much stress, and I know I must wrap this up before it gets any uglier. Besides, I’ll talk to you in my dreams soon enough. I always do.
Dreams, though, don’t and never will replace having you here on Earth.
I miss you, Steph, perhaps more than I did back then, and probably less than I one day will. I imagine that you’re happier wherever you now are, and I try like crazy to take some comfort in this. Because the real me, the SELFISH me, wants you here. Where you belong.
I’ll be seeing you, my old friend.