It’s been a month since you left.
Every day, I look and check online for some sign that you’re gone. If I can’t find that notice somewhere, it won’t seem real, that instead I’ve fallen prey to some cosmic joke, and you’ll turn up somewhere alive, safe and sound.
There’s been a continuous jumble and tumble of bubbles in my head, but if I don’t put them down somewhere, I fear they would disappear into the aether. With words streaming from one screen to the next, will they ever reach you? Will these thoughts, ideas, and regrets find their way to you?
When you left, a number of promises set off with you.
The promise, however slight or tenuous, of meeting one day, and I could properly say hello and thank you for your help and support.
The promise, mingling with the memories of having met your fellow travelers and friends, of having them tell you how much they missed you.
The promise, among well-organized plans, of visiting places you always wanted to see.
And when you were about to fall, I promise we would’ve been there to catch you. The promise, though ready as we were, we could not fulfill or prevail.
How did not I know about what was happening? Why didn’t I see your tweets or read your blog? What more could we have done?
Swimming in guilt, the feeling has subsided to a dull ache that’s wishing for an outlet and release. I’ve been holding my hands out, arms held high, waiting for something to happen. But when questions finally arrive, I know it’s too late again: supplication and submission sink slowly, returning to the sea.
Everyone has responsibility for their own lives, but that truism seems to fall short of what’s necessary in our so-called collective. After all, haven’t we always been saying a place to rest and to call “home” isn’t completely out of line some of the time?
Once things go awry I suppose one waits an eternity to yell bloody fire in a crowded building, but thing is, we don’t do that sort of thing around here. Among friends and family, one endures alone and apart, a stranger and survivor of purgatory among the unholy trinity of shame, secrecy, and blame. In the rabbit hole, things rarely add up, and there’s not a lot to see but the rest of the way down.
I’ve heard the calling of the knives; I know they’ve been lurking in the corner for the last thirty years. Countless hours, grinding days and weeks, the weary months, and jailbound years must claim a price, and what’s true in the past remains unchanged in the present. If I’m not careful, a carefully constructed box opens to unleash despair; it’ll return to hunt and to haunt, like a long-lost friend.
But for reasons I cannot explain, there is still some undiminished capacity for hope that hasn’t fully gone. I’m still here; we’re still here. It’s easy thinking to believe the light was extinguished. I guess I’d fooled myself into hiding among the shadows.
Moving on seems cold and unfeeling, something like an ugly dirty obscenity. The process of creating as before in your absence seems oddly wrong, but I’m certain you’d want us all to continue. I’m sure you wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Fact is you’ll always be remembered as being part of a group, whose members are joined by the algebra of uniting different people by a common interest. It’s easy to forget there are simple rules of making a connection, even brief, among all of the mathematics of our individual problems, equations, and solutions.
I want you to know you were never alone. It’s up to us now to accept the simplicity of that truth. Every person who’s passed into our lives in some way must take their rightful place; no one can dismiss the effect a person has on others.
Since I started traveling extensively in the last twenty years, I’ve never liked saying goodbye. I’m not about to start, even now.
“I’ll see you when I see you.”
I made the photo at Ocean Beach in San Francisco on 18 March 2012. This letter-post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-3QT.