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Friendship Sad

Reverberations of Loss

You showed up again yesterday. In my dreams, I mean. You still do that from time to time, I can’t very well fight it and I’m not sure I want to, anyway. 

            More likely, I don’t. I don’t, because yesterday I begged you to stay. I begged you to stay, but you just smiled with that soft tilt of your lips that didn’t change a bit from when you were five years old, and I woke up. I would like to think that you are still so much a part of me that you never really left; that the fact that you still visit me in my dreams is the bulletproof proof (hah, got it?) of that. But I don’t know. I don’t know much these days. 

            I rehearse saying it sometimes. “When my best friend died,” I say, and I hear my voice embrace the pain that’s crouching behind the words and, in the end, they always come out cold and impersonal, uncaring, as though my talking about it signified a detachment, a cessation of hurt; as though it was a fact outside of myself, floating around my head like a fly, annoying but benign.  

            Of course, that’s far from the truth, because, God, I can’t shake you. For over fifteen years you were a part of me, that’s not something that I can just easily get over. And I swear, sometimes I hear you protest the fact, telling me softly, but with a firm edge: “Well, but you should, you know? You should get over it. What good does is it for you or anyone else if you stay stuck in the past for the rest of your life? You’re acting like you died with me. Yeah, here, I said it. Died. I died. But you don’t have to –”

            And there’s an irony to this, isn’t there? Are those words really even yours, or is that my body attempting to be persuasive in its desperate push for me to move on, to heal? When exactly did we blend into one? Either way, I’d like to listen to what you have to say patiently without abruptly and, quite frankly, indecently, jumping in to stop you, I’d very much like to comply, and don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m not trying, but there are some memories that I can’t very well let go of. I can’t. I don’t know what’s left for me if not the refuge of the blissful past they offer. 

            And there’s so many of them, too, swirling hectically in my mind, taking up space, tasting of raspberry lemonade and smelling of night rains. Although, of course, there are some particular favourites of mine and those I end up seeking more often than others. Remember, for example, when you attempted to teach me chess and I trusted you so unreservedly that it took me all of two hours to realise you had absolutely no idea what you were talking about? And remember when we went camping with our parents that one summer (almost right before my parents got divorced), and how it only downed on us in hindsight that they only went because of us, for us, because they themselves had nothing to talk about to each other? But the two of us, boy, did we have fun. Splashing and swimming in the soft waves of the lake I have since come to think of as of a home, climbing the rocks that seemed to us to hover high above the green landscape, the colours of the forest somewhat brighter, the sounds of the azure skies somewhat louder than they are now (was it you who changed the world so?), we were inseparable.

            We grew together, around one another. Remember the first party we went to together and remember how from then on, whenever we went somewhere, I often ended up sniffling somewhere in the corner sullenly, feeling awkward and out of place, while you, of course, were the beating heart of the night, alive and attracting all the moths and kids around, your roaring laughter sent periodically up to the stars, twinkling eyes amalgamated with the mischievous flickers of the moon. Remember how alive you made everyone feel? Because I do, and I also remember how, once you saw I didn’t feel like I fit in, you stuck by my side. Because if we belonged nowhere else, if the whole world forsook us, we always belonged with each other. To each other. There’s no one I belong to now.

            Remember our Christmas shopping? All those gingerbread cappuccinos for which we were too young, and which made us giddy and impatient, and which made the world around us move much faster, which made existence much more scintillatingly frantic for those several hours (and what a childish wish it was, wanting to fast forward like that, huh? Nowadays, I want nothing but to slow everything down a little, what is desirable is stasis); all those giggles coming with “Imagine if I gave mum this,” which “this” was, inevitably, something ridiculous which would offend her to no end, perhaps a card with a naughty joke. What a time we always had, and now, Christmas time is so near I can taste its delightful whispers on my bland tongue, and I don’t know how to do it without you. It’s easier to resort to those memories of roaming the mall with you, safer. Or to those memories of the endless laughter when we poured into each other together with all that comes with first loves and heartbreaks and oh, I’d fight everyone for you, I’d protect you from hurt any time even if I ultimately failed you. I run to those memories of the kingdom of the birds we imagined resided in the park behind your house, and to those hazy hours of prom, and to all those moments that show you never gave up on me.

            I don’t know, Q, I don’t know what it is that I yearn for so intensely that I keep circling within these images, these merciless reverberations of what once was and is no more. Is it your presence, is it who I was then, is it our innocence? And I don’t even know if these are really memories – in fact, half the time I don’t know to what extent that which I see in front of my eyes so clearly it scares me has happened and to which extent it’s just the stuff my mind is made off. Is that night we slept under the stars imaginary, reconstructed, remade? Were you even real? Were you? Recollecting changes the past. 

Did you ever notice that so often when we remember ourselves the perspective shifts so that we no longer actually see the situation through our own eyes, but as if from the outside, as if we became omniscient narrators or some sort of that thing they teach you in school? As if our own figure only served as a focaliser in those texts we weave around every second that gets ticked off our lives? As a kid, I liked that shift, it made me feel like I was more part of what was happening around me, more integrated, less isolated by my perspective’s being different from that of others. But now, I’m not so sure. This shift, too, makes me doubt the verity, the authenticity of everything. 

You know what? It changed me, such a confrontation with mortality in my twenties, it changed me knowing what can happen even if you are young, even if you are a good person and it’s almost as difficult to forget this as you are. It put many what ifs in my mind that didn’t have to be there. You could’ve been there instead. Or, preferably, you could’ve been standing right in front of me. But I digress, and there’s actually a point to all this, I swear to you, I know my ramblings, whirlings in mental traps, often got you annoyed even though you would never really say so. See, I used to think it singled me out, losing you, losing somebody so close to me as young as I did, talking to ghosts residing in all my surroundings, in leaves moving and rains falling. I used to think that what was precious about the memories I habitually found refuge in was that they were quite normal, common. Something that connected me to the rest of the world. Still, increasingly, what I’m realising is that loss is just as common. There’s hardly anyone who hasn’t lost somebody, especially so nowadays (I don’t think you even want to know; I’m not telling you about what’s been happening here). In fact, there are people battling new losses every single day, it’s something cold we all carry within the warmth of our chests, something we all try to learn to navigate and fail more often than not. We all try to go on with our lives when others didn’t even get a chance to do that. So, maybe I owe it to you to try as well, to try harder since I got the chance. I owe it to you to loiter less in the palaces I built out of memories, to transport myself to the ever-shifting present you didn’t get a taste of, to find hope in the future and not in the past. I certainly do. 

You showed up again last night and I begged you to stay, and you didn’t, and you never will again. It was me who woke up to the new day, and even if my chest still hurts from that freezing cold you left, it was me who woke up after you smiled and it’s me whose heart is beating, and maybe, just maybe, it’s time I go and live with all those people around me who, too, have lost somebody rather than dwell in those painfully safe reverberations of the past. Maybe. 

November 18, 2021 15:23

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2 comments

Eric Falvey
23:46 Nov 24, 2021

I could feel the heartache emanating throughout this piece. I really found myself connecting with it emotionally. Pulled at my heartstrings. This piece will really stick with me.

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Agnes Goldfinch
10:16 Nov 29, 2021

Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment! I am really glad it seems the story conveyed what it was supposed to. And I'm also glad it sticks in some way, even if for a moment, since that's what it's about: the unshakability of certain emotions, feelings and memories. So, once again, thank you!

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