37. Dirty 30

Dear Jon,

I miss you.  28 year olds aren’t supposed to die of cancer.  28 year olds are supposed to hug their 10 month old sons with arms that aren’t emaciated.  28 year olds are supposed to speak with mouths that still have tongues, to talk sweet baby talk.  Have gentle hands that can wipe baby food off tiny faces.

I miss you.  I am one of a thousand that do.  I see you in your son’s eyes, I still hear you laughing when my brother laughs.  I miss you at the most ridiculous and inappropriate moments because that’s when you would have told a joke to make everything ok.

Could it possibly have been this long we’ve been without you?  Like all of my memories, it somehow feels like a thousand years ago and yesterday at the same time.

I can still feel your hug around me when I was crying in your car at seventeen.  I can still feel your hand reaching up to grab mine as I sat by the last bed you’d ever lie in, comforting me of all things, in my apologies and tears.  I just wasn’t there for you enough.

Happy Birthday sweetheart.

We miss you.  We miss you so.

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29. Too.

It isn’t until the morning after – the sunlight streaming through the half ripped out vertical blinds – that I really feel like shit.

I only had one drink last night, followed by a plastic cup after plastic cup of water, and a cold walk in the dark from downtown.  I spent an hour crying on a bathroom floor.  My phone, screaming accusations, but all in text.  He wouldn’t take any of my calls.  Or my thousand requests for Facetime to prove I was where I said I would be.  I was doing what I said I would be doing.  I am frantically texting pictures of my face, my feet, the room, my friends, and begging please.  Please.  I don’t understand.  Why are you doing this to me?  I love you.  Why?  Please.  Please.  And so many other phrases that turned out to just be words strung together that should have meant something but didn’t.

I cried on the cold bathroom floor until three am.  Begging and grasping and completely lost, why would he do this to me?  I didn’t do anything wrong… I love him so much… I asked him if it was ok to come down.  I went out of my way to stay with someone he could be comfortable with… Why is he doing this?  Why is he doing this.  And then I realize he is doing this because he has been drinking.  And I realize this is never going to end.  And I realize I should turn off my phone.  I tell him what I need to say.  Then I make good on my word.   I cried on the bathroom floor until three am. Then I washed my face, turned that phone off, and climbed into Travis’s bed, wearing his old sweats.  I tell myself I am not going to cry there, but I keep crying there, then asking if it’s ok with his girlfriend, then crying again.  He reminds me that the living room is freezing, that his girlfriend is a nice and understanding person, and that we’ve known each other since we were eleven.  Its’ ok.  I cry some more and tell him I’ll try to shut up, but since I’ve cried so much I’m sure I’ll snore.

Travis falls asleep immediately.

Travis snores.

In the morning, when the light shines in too bright and it’s maybe only 3 hours later, we get up, because it’s too light to sleep.  “I want to make you breakfast” he says, because he is a good friend, and because my stomach is empty, and because I have black rings under my eyes and am in desperate need of care.  I tell him that’s sweet but not to worry.  “I have eggs!” he yells, before realizing they’re past the expiration date.

“Eh, whatever” I say

“You really want to take that kind of a chance”

“I’m feeling lucky”

I pause.

“Oh fuck it, I’m feeling the opposite of lucky.  I’m feeling a million times worse than lucky, but I’m feeling so terrible a couple of bad eggs can’t make things any worse”

Travis laughs.

“Everything you say sounds like it’s a quote from a book or a movie or something”

“I think men fall in love with me because of that and then leave me when they realize I’m an actual person.”

He hugs me.  We go to Ralphs for eggs.

We make and enjoy breakfast.  I hand him my phone as it turns back on and ask him if there was anything not hideous or hateful said as it rings 6 or 7 times, indicating all the texts to wade through.  Travis checks the phone.

“No” he says decidedly.  So I don’t read them.

About an hour later, another one comes through.

“Everything after last night just left me more confused than ever…”

And confused myself, I read every last word from the night before until I am unshakable.  And all I do is copy, word for word, the final text I sent before I turned off the phone.

“If you are confused, allow me to clarify.  By the time I come home, I want all of your things out of my house.  I want you to leave your keys on the table by the door, and I want you to leave, and never, ever come back.”

He tells me he can’t get there.  He tells me this.  He tells me that.  He gives a thousand reasons and excuses but he has a functioning car and his crap in my home, so he’d better remove it.  I ignore it.  Travis illegally downloads Catching Fire so I can watch it with my broken body (movies are hard for girls who can’t sit) and it turns out movies where lots of people die are hard to watch after you’ve just had a loss.  I cry, then say it’s an amazing movie, then cry, then say I love Lenny Kravitz, then cry.

Enough people have died in the film at this point and I’m starting to lose it.  I ask Travis to pause the movie and he does.  He has me in blankets with a heater straight on me, and I’m still shivering.  He comes over to hug me while I start to sob.  The hateful words said to me, the loss of love I thought would last, the disintegration of everything I planned around me all over again.  And it’s only because I’m so broken and so vulnerable, only because I’ve been ripped up one side and down the other, only because the nerves are raw and the heart is bleeding, and the dreams are crushed, do I whisper in his ear what I’ve been stuffing into corners, under cheerfulness and positive platitudes, afraid to say out loud for the last four months.

“Jon died.  Jon died.  I could die too.”

“I’m scared”

And he holds me.  He holds me like a good friend would.