This picture popped up in my memories today on Facebook and made me smile. Michel and I fought, a lot. He thought I was spoiled. I was. We argued, a lot. I’d only learn in time and the passing of years what he meant. I learned so many lessons from him. How to live a simple life, to love and respect nature, to take long walks everyday, (like ten miles burn your ass and legs walks), how to laugh at yourself and others, how to work out, how to eat clean, and how to be here now. How to love. People, animals, life. The basics. All of it. Sometimes when I walk the nature trails with Lupe I can hear him, “hurry up connasse” and so I pick up the pace. And thank god for the days spent in his company in the sun, the fondest memories that a person shares with you are the ones that sustain us. I do the dishes, make my bed and celebrate another year (however hard, tragic, and chaotic) around the sun. Lost loved ones leave open wounds that become stitches in our hearts, scar tissue and eventually leaving room to mend. To grow, and to learn. The heart expands even when broken by time and circumstance. Love lives on the wind that blows frigid and in an instant, Spring appears changing her course once again. Nature’s seasons were Michel’s happiest, simplest magical place and I am still learning how to be present like him. My New Year’s wish for you is that you never give up, even when the physical pain of losing a loved one or perhaps even yourself feels impossible, keep on pushing the boundaries, stripping away all the nonsense, the baggage, the noise, and trusting you will fill the empty spaces with love, and relearn to walk again. To die young is not the natural order but a life lived full, simple and serene is a gift to be opened with gratitude, compassion and humility. Go ahead make your mistakes. Like the worst, wildest fuckups you can dream. And if you’re lucky they’ll be a person, or persons who will challenge you to get up and walk tall again and again. The nostalgic pictures help us remember we were here, and life was good. I forget sometimes reverting back to that spoiled girl, only for a moment. And then I remember how lucky in love I have been.
I cannot walk through the grief for you. I would if I could.
I cannot cry the tears that pour like a fountain. I would if I could.
I cannot understand the pain, the weight, the fear and the messy emotions that consume your broken heart.
Grief is yours, and only yours.
The love never dies, no one can take that from you.
I would carry that burden,
I would if I could.
All that is beautiful in you, all the shared memories can never be erased.
They are sacred. They are theirs and yours, one intimate legacy.
And no one, not even life’s ugly tragic circumstance can steal them away.
Now, what would they tell me to do, to help mend your broken heart?
I would do anything, so I sit silent and wait with you for easier days.
When somehow, someday far and away from today you realize you are stronger than the pain, and the tears. You are tough, just like them.
Not today, no no no. And not tomorrow. Not even next year.
So, we wait in sorrow and silence for the seasons to bear the heavy load.
Time becomes the sweet and sad reminder of how very much you were loved.
The physical longing mysteriously grows lighter.
I cannot walk through the darkness and your grief. I would if I could.
The one thing I can do is be an ear, on solid ground, sitting silent with you.
In His Boots
The mementos we hold on to, heirlooms we choose not to discard and throw away.
All the traditional, routine ways we try to live inside the memory of someone, some one precious, beloved. To feel them near in the physical awhile longer can seem foolish and nonsensical.
It’s ridiculous to think an oversized, outdated, uncomfortable pair of black boots with fleece lining and thick rubber soles hold any value, and yet.
I wear my father’s boots when I head out to walk the dog. It’s crazy, they’re too big and my heels slip and slide trying to find solid footing on shaky ground. It doesn’t matter. I’m not trying to be practical, or looking for some mystical answer or hidden treasure. The cold air smashes against my ankles and makes my toes curl. I don’t care; I like the deep freeze against my skin. The winter frost reminds me I am indeed breathing as snow creeps in and drips down my exposed limb. I suppose I could double up woolen socks, try to fill the void. Why would I? I tried that once, my feet felt cramped and uncomfortable screaming for some space and air.
To feel the empty, sit in the hollow spaces he once filled effortlessly makes perfect sense.
I don’t want to box up the boots, stow them in a back closet or even gift them away. I want to remove the black boots with zippers on both sides from the shelf each winter, and grin. Another season to make new memories together, him and me.
I will carefully set them aside for when the inevitable seasons change again, and wait for spring. I want something to look forward to.
His smile fades as time and distance creates a vacuum, the gaping, fuzzy recollection plays tricks on the mind.
Was it a false memory?
Did I pile into the back of his rusted, pickup truck for Blackberry ice cream on many a summer’s eve? Did we giggle and laugh until we peed our pants from the smell of horseshit? Did he lift me up on his shoulders every chance he got? Did his eyes beam each time he looked at me?
Did I hear the snores while he slept on the floor beside me when I was fevered? Did he count laps as I swam lifting my head from the water peeking to make sure he was exactly where I left him? I still do that sometimes, turn my head to the side expecting to see him instead of an empty chair. My reflexes and muscle memory are still intact.
Were there tears in his eyes the first time I left home and the last time we said goodbye? Goodbye for now, not forever.
Did he love me?
That, I don’t doubt. I don’t need a faded memory to feel his love in my bones and smiling under my skin. His grin is the brightest, fondest memory I hold. My heart and his are forever entwined.
Still, doesn’t make the missing any easier.
I wear his boots and trip sometimes.
That makes me smile, on the inside.