This is an updated version of a letter I wrote in 2015. So many of these feelings are simply a part of me now. Loss becomes an accessory, perhaps one we never intended to wear, but there it is each morning and night. Maybe you take it off or put it down occasionally, but anniversaries and memories will knock down your door.
Today would have been your 37th birthday. I suppose it still is and always will be. I suppose I could unpack this burden of grief and celebrate. I could bake a cake, sing a song and pretend that I don’t feel your absence every time I find myself driving down 2nd Street or Snelling or Cedar or Minnehaha. I could pretend my guts don’t twist a little every time I hear Hallelujah or see the number 4 bus. It’s strange how often the living play dead too. We kill ourselves with the what if? and the what would have been? I imagine you would scoff at some of my choices. I imagine I would still need to slap some sense into you every now and then.
Dear friend, I often think of the seventh grade you: simple and sweet right before the necessity to be cool destroyed us all. I think of the you a few weeks before your death and hope that I hugged you tight enough, that we laughed enough and that you knew how much I appreciated your friendship.
I find myself in conflict with my own belief system; while I don’t believe in heaven, I surely hope you are there. I hold tight the notion that your energy still lives here and that it sometimes finds its way back into my world. I hope you sit with me while I read and write poems, while I sip coffee. I hope you laugh with me. I hope your ghost has memory and that there is still sweetness to be tasted in the afterlife.
Every April I feel like I’m letting you go all over again and I don’t know if that feeling will ever fade. Maybe the pang is meant to tell me that there is still work to be done, that my brain is still too full worry and my heart is still a little too hard. Maybe it is you hanging onto the pieces of me that are fading with time. We will never know, we can only Wonder.