You were driving us to the city, with Carol. As we approached our destination, the traffic increased, as it always seems to. We chatted about three, four things at once, on and on. We looked at the time. We were cutting it close. You were annoyed at the traffic. As we merged and slowed down more, sped up, changed lanes and discussed alternate exits, you announced that the reason the traffic was heavy was because you had decided to take that route.
In the midst of chattering conversation, I said quietly, from the backseat, “You’re not that powerful.”
The conversation continued: traffic, doctors, parking, exits, coffee, time, lunch, exits, waiting room, naps…
Five minutes later, you answered my comment, tossing a smile my way: “Yes I am.”
And you were. Not necessarily the kind of power that causes traffic. But the kind of powerful that I could feel in a room. A presence that was at once comforting, reassuring, and made me feel stronger too. Not only did you make me feel like I had a witness to life, but that I wasn’t crazy. Everyone knows what an observer you were. You noticed things I thought no one else saw, and you told me things I’d never have picked up on. Details, patterns, connections.
And you surprised me. You waited an entire year before you became my friend. A decision that changed my life, and wasn’t mine. You wanted to see what I was all about. How seriously I was going to take things. What I would have to say. Almost exactly after a year, you approached me. I remember what you said. And I thought, “Where the hell have you been?” but I knew where you’d been. You’d just been on the other side of the room. A purposeful distance away.
I’m working on accepting that you’re not here anymore…in the way you were. I am not ok with it some days. But you were all about action, and there’s no progress in pouting.
Things keep coming to mind that I want to tell you, and I’d rather not find someone else to tell. I want to hear what you’d say. Some nights on the phone you didn’t let me get a word in edgewise. You had a lot to tell me in a short amount of time.
I feel like you were an amazing book someone loaned me, and I wasn’t done reading it, and now the book is gone. I’m lucky to have had the privilege to read what I could in the time I had. But books don’t listen. And you did. You got me. In living my life I’ll remember how well you lived yours. I’ll keep writing, and looking for things you would notice. Thank you being part of my life. Nothing’s a mistake.