I chronicled at my old blog the sad events that were taking place in my life a year ago. As I look back I see I was in a bit of a funk at the time. I still am. Same funk maybe intensified now?
It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon that I remember well. I was sitting here at my desk reading. My cell phone rang and I saw the familiar number of an old friend (really a former lover who I remained friendly with after that phase of our relationship ended). To my surprised it wasn't her voice I heard, but rather that of her sister. My friend was in the hospital, having been diagnosed with lung and liver cancer. After a brief conversation I asked my friend's sister to please have her sister call me when she felt well enough.
It was two weeks before that call came and I heard my friend's weak voice. We talked for maybe 15 or 20 minutes. There was so much I wanted to say, but couldn't think of a way to say it all without sounding like I might be saying good-bye forever. I couldn't do that because she was talking about fighting that thing with an eye towards beating it (as in fact she had almost twenty years previously when she developed colon cancer).
She was to begin treatments the next week and she was even planning on going to work cleaning houses with her sister. Alas, it wasn't to be. Her strength and life steadily ebbed away. One week from our conversation, she died suddenly at home when her heart just gave out. It was the next afternoon, Sunday, July 14, when again I was disappointed again to see her number come up on my phone only to hear someone other than her at the other end. Her son had called let me know. She died on his twenty-fourth birthday.
It was beautiful again that Sunday. The sun was shining brightly and my sad mood took an even sadder turn, and I resented the sun. But I remember putting down the phone, and after a period of sorting through the rush of thoughts and memories that were sweeping over me, I decided to get up and go cut my mother's grass. I need to go do something, but I think I needed to smell the earth and the grass. Being close to the earth that way always reminds me of life, and the mystery thereof.
All that happened in a three week span about one year ago. It isn't that I am purposely immersing myself in it. No, the way sun is hitting the trees in my yard, the way the weather has been, the fact that I was cutting my mom's grass the other day in the familiar heat, all these things and more bring those memories back, whether I want to deal with them or not.
Just a short while ago I woke up from dreaming. For some reason I was spending the night in my friend's home and sleeping in her bed - an impossibility, as her home was sold a short while ago. But you know how dreams can be. I remember looking around her room and feeling that I really didn't want to sleep there. It was too painful. Everything looked as if she was still alive and still there, but even in my dream I was aware of her death. And then I looked at her dresser and saw, hanging on the corner of the mirror, a coat hanger that held her pajamas. I remember taking her pajama top and holding it to my face, trying to catch a lingering hint of her scent.
Well, I call this lady my friend. She was actually a former lover. When circumstances in our lives compelled us to go our separate ways, we remained friendly. Sort of close in a distant way, if that makes sense. Over the years I've lost to death friends, classmates, coworkers, family members - but this is something different. This is the first time I ever lost someone I had shared that intimate part of my life with. We had lived together for two years. We had shared a bed, meals, dreams, all the things that lovers share. Most of our time together was sweet. Obviously that is why there were deep feelings beneath the currents, for both of us.
I have often thought about one of our early dates, when she had invited me over to her house for dinner. Afterwards we went into her den to watch her favorite movie, that oldie Somewhere In Time. I had never seen it before. I don't know how many of you might have seen it, but it is certainly a haunting experience if you are a romantic at heart.
Burned into my memory is scene where the old woman places a locket into the lead character's hand and implores him to "come back to me." Also burned into my memory is that haunting theme song from the movie.
It was a long time after my friend's death before I was able to play that song. But for some reason it was a thing I felt I had to do. I don't think I could watch the movie again without getting really depressed. Maybe someday I will watch it again. It's just that I remember so well that night she and I watched that movie, cuddling together on the couch.
I wish could go back to my friend, if only for a short while. The good times were so good, and during those times I was so happy. And even later, as close friends, we still had fun together. I think of lots of meals and shopping sprees together, lots of evenings spent here at my place just talking and listening to music as the sun went down and room darkened into a romantic glow. I would love the chance to relive some of those good times. Unfortunately such things seem only to happen in fiction, like the movie she loved so well.
So yes, this is a sad anniversary for me. Or maybe I should think of it as bittersweet. For as surely as the pain of losing my friend is unpleasant, the memories of our time together are something I wouldn't give up for all the world. Surely it isn't just her sad death that I am recalling now, but also the happy times we spent together.