A Whole Lot of Present

I talk a lot about how I hope the universe holds my stories so, in a way, I don’t have to. Today is one of those days. I am striving to stay present and real while my mind wanders around in the ether. Grief is so weird that I always think I’m over it, and then something happens, and in an instant, my current self disappears and I am lost in the shadows. This week it was the death of a mutual friend, someone that I wasn’t close to, but she was. On the day that he died, she left me a voice mail telling me how much I meant to her. I listened to it in order to hear her voice from across the years, and I cannot say that I’m sad that I did it. The lilt in her voice that was home, to my relief, still is. There may be no future, but there is a beautiful past… rich and full like a tapestry in a museum, and woven just as tightly.

It allows me to keep a small flame alive that all of this is a distant nightmare, that the reality I knew as a child was actually a shared one instead of an elaborately ornamental fantasyland. The hardest part of this whole thing is not losing the present and future. It is losing the past. It is the feeling that my entire childhood was a practical joke, with unplanned and dire consequences for the woman I would become. I was too young at the time to even conceive of the possibility that she didn’t love me the way she said she did, that hugs weren’t contracts and letters weren’t friendship. As an adult, I am just shamed beyond belief. In my darkest moments, I cannot forgive myself for being a teenager without this kind of foresight. It is ridiculous, but it has also been expected of me. The game has been to convince me that I should have been able to see it coming. I should have been reading her mind all of this time and taking copious notes on what meant something and what was just a “daily event.” I am not sure what that means, but I have come to realize that her emotional overatures were the equivalent of being a divorced dad who won’t come to dinner consistently, but will take you to Six Flags once in a while and try to buy your love. It’s over the top, it’s more than you’ve ever dreamed, and it reinforces to you how much they love you… when it’s convenient for them.

What’s convenient for you is the least of their worries, but it is the crux of yours.

The peace I hope for in the end is about receiving her if she shows up, and at the same time, killing all expectation that it will ever happen. I cannot ignore the possibility, because it is what takes away all of my anger. I have been angry, and it is over. I retreat with all of my memories and have forgiven the future that never happened.

However, that being said, there is still a whole lot of present. I have said before that it is a major emotional surgery, and I wish I was just kidding about that. The end of this friendship would have been easy for me as a healthy, whole adult. Because I was so young when we met, it has taken my foundations of love and trust and slashed all the tires. My inner teenager is crying the crocodile tears of injustice, while my outer adult is trying to comfort and console.

It would be so much easier if I could get mad and stay that way, but our narrative is more complicated than that. We have both been terrible to each other. We have both been tender, real, loving. We have both done things to the other that we wish we could forget, and given each other intangible gifts that we’ll always want to remember.

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