Death month has begun, officially. Read back today, to the anniversary post of year three. Year three - and it was still so fucking brutal. So unfair. So horrible. And what gets me now, what has me this morning, listening to warren zevon’s “keep me in your heart for awhile” is that it is no longer brutal. Matt is no longer - my hands stop, hovering over the keyboard. It is not one bit true that he is not in my heart anymore. He is. He still is. And - . And. And. I don’t know what “and.” That he is not my first thought, nor my second. That I have been in love - or circling close to it - twice now, since he’s been gone. Hell, twice now within a year and a half. I don’t think of him, but I always think of him. He is not real, and he is real.
I look at that post, re-entering all of those days, the horror and the beauty and the right-here-with-me inside this that he used to be. All of everything. The retching. The endless, endless retching. Knowing it still lives in me.
All of this - is so strange. How side by side, how not. I write this, I feel this, I’m in this. And yet. And also. Tomorrow I am going out with O and S, all three of us together. Next week, on death date weekend, I have plans with S on Friday, then with O on saturday, and on sunday, as year seven moves into year 8, I will wake up in his arms. Not yours. And I will kiss him, and be kissed, and have sex and be happy, and confused, and torn in two. And he will be kind and sweet and thoughtful. And I will be happy, and confused, and torn in two.
I drove the car over to be worked on again. Walking back, in my short jean skirt, my cute hat, cold in the chilly early morning when I had already been up for four hours. Listening to warren zevon sing over and over again. Feeling it. Feeling it. I am walking, looking at the sky, the trees. I pick up a broken crow feather, knowing it is not mine, but I carry it anyway. I turn down a street when instructed by that inner whatever it is that tells me things sometimes. I come around the corner, asking you to show me something now.
My eyes land on one perfect, beautiful yellow rose. And my eyes, my inner eyes light immediately on two images, one image, one sound, both image, both sound, of me, scattering roses on your death day, there at the river, yellow roses - no, I did not see THAT until just now, this moment. On the walk, I saw - the yellow rose I kept, kept back from that bouquet of 12 I bought at whole foods on my way to the river, not on the anniversary, but so soon after, so soon after you died. That one yellow rose atop the red formica table in that cold gray kitchen on danforth street.
I see that rose, that one yellow rose, and I see-hear us, see-hear you, on the rocks at the lobster pound, telling me again, again and again, the story of the young woman who died there, running the rocks, who slipped and fell and hit her head while running the rocks. How her family scattered roses every year. You told me that story so many times, so many times, though each time, you thought it was the first. My mind lit on that single yellow rose, and you on the rocks, and now me, on that bridge, scattering yellow roses into the water. One on the bridge, then 10 more at the spot where you died.
You died. And here, 7 years later, I come around the corner, catch the sight of one single yellow rose, and hear you say, plain and clear as day - I brought you to a place filled with roses. What more can you ask? You say this with that light in your eye, in your voice, teasing me.
I remember scattering red roses, this time on the one year date, your ashes swirling around my ankles, as your mother one sister and your nephew stood along the shore. What the fuck life is this. What life is this. That as I write this, S sends me a hilarious text about our threesome date on saturday, and I can flirt back, yet continue to write about you, to write about roses and ashes and messages from you, when you - when you when you when you are of my life and not.
And now, I am texting with my new love, not about you, but about me, about the me I was, and honestly, this me I was, the me I was in the water that day, the me who lived, it hurts to look at her. To keep one hand on her heart, with her heart. It hurts. I text that I am sending love letters back in time to myself, with this current book, to hold onto her as fiercely as I can, however I can, to help her survive.
I should not have survived your death, Matt. I should not have survived what I lived. I went so dark, for so long. And maybe time travel can and does go both ways. That me I was, so broken, so destroyed, became the self that, as O said, “WOULD think to send love back, as an anchor.” Like, that self, that me, somewhere, somehow inside, knew to ask. Knew to believe. To wait.
Something survived. And I remember the line I wrote, so many years ago now, that light was not lit by you, and it is not maintained by you. I need those lines now, realizing I wrote that for me: with the weight of responsibility I feel for this book, to do this book well, to do for myself what I most needed, what I still need now: To save her. To help her survive.
Holy fuck, it is true. What I said. What I said all those years ago. Something keeps us alive. Hidden and buried so far underground that the blast could not take us. (Rumi wrote: something keeps me joyful, but I do not know what.) I survived. The core, radiant, generous, kind, goofy self - survived.
I should not have survived your death, Matt. You are here, and not here, and always, running under the surface of things, my reason for writing, my reason for love, one hand on my heart, the heart of the person I was, back then, in that water that day. On the bridge. One yellow rose on a red table.
At the end of a podcast, the interviewer says to me - so you lived this. And as you’re sitting here now, you have this devilish glint in your eyes. You’re happy. How does that self survive?
I said, I answered - I think I survived because I LET myself go dark. Because I stayed dark for so very long. Because I let myself. Not knowing I'd come back.