Monday, July 25, 2011

Haunted.

I swear I will catch up on everybody's posts.

Or I will die trying.

Never surrender, never give up!
I've just been so busy and tired and exhausted that I haven't had time to do more than hop on, reply to comments, and catch up on the FARNC, because really, if I let that one slack they might kick me out and then it would be called ARNC, and that just looks silly. Though they could switch the letters around and be NARC. But then anybody who has ever smoked weed would not bother reading them because paranoia is a major side effect of being high.

That's neither here nor there.

This is actually post number 202 for me. Am I supposed to be marking these or something? I didn't do a 100th post special, and apparently I forgot to notice when I hit 200 posts. Maybe I should just wait for number 300 and see if I remember then?

Well, it's too late for the one and too early for the other.

Anyway, earlier this evening at the FARNC I posted a poem someone wrote about me when I was eleven. And as I giggled over the memory, I felt a little nostalgic and decided to look through all of the notes and gifts I received from people over the course of my twenty two years.

It was a mistake.

I found the other poem written for me.

Now, I've only ever had two poems written about me in my entire life, and the first one clearly stated the writer hoped for my death. The other poem was written by a close friend of mine when I was seventeen. He died a short year later, when we were away at our separate colleges. I was supposed to be there with him at LSU. That had been our plan, but I backed out. 

I don't think I'll ever forgive myself for not going with him in the end. He never reproached me for it, even though he knew my reasons for going to TSU were stupid, and I'll never forget that he was my friend even after I changed everything that we had planned together. I know I'll never forgive myself for putting off answering his last e-mail for a couple of days to spend time with the asshole boyfriend I was seeing. 

I'll carry that with me every single day for the rest of my life. 

Maybe one day I'll get over my aversion and visit his grave. I'm more scientific than religious, obviously, but I'd like a chance to apologize, to say my goodbyes, to tell him what he meant to me even if he can't really hear me. Either way, I'm sure he knew how much I valued his friendship.

Anyway, the poem he wrote me was something of a joke between the two of us. He wrote it in the hallway just before we went inside a classroom to compete against each other at a UIL tournament. (And for the record, I took second place that day while he took third.)  It couldn't have been more than five minutes for him to accept my challenge, to write a poem about the nickname he had given me within hours of first meeting me, to make it rhyme.

Purple, deep and dark as night,
Alluring, a sort of soft delight.
A velvet petal like heaven to touch,
A berry of sweetness that may be too much.
Green leaves and stems so shapely and fair,
A mesmerizing scent designed to ensnare.

A dazzling trap lay before thy eyes,
A beautiful mask is Lady's fine disguise.
Beautiful Lady, a find name indeed.
A simple name intended to mislead.

Be careful now for what you trust,
For this fine beauty's power lies in your lust.
Intoxicating beauty tempts the man,
Who will eat of the fruit as much as he can.
Will take what he can find,
And devour it in kind,
But a fitting death awaits the end.
This dark beauty is no man's friend.

Belladonna, yes, a well named flower,
For in her color and shape lies the power
Of guileless deception of the finest breed.
But Devil's Nightshade she is also decreed.

Loving her is dangerous for any man, and dare he...
Let the fool too late realize her dangerously cruel beauty.

He edited it later, refined it, changed some things, and e-mailed the complete product to me, but I always liked this version best. It's not wonderful, obviously, but I like it. He called me Belladonna because he said I was beautiful and deceptively dangerous. (He would know. We went to competing schools. He never beat me.)  

I like it because this is how I remember him best: rising to a challenge with a smile on his face and laughter on his lips. Never a sore loser, gracious in defeat even when our scores were the same and I would win because of the tie breaker essay. (Nobody ever stood a chance against my essays. If ever I tied with somebody, my essay always pulled me ahead.) He was a true friend to me, and I'm sorry that we only knew each other for those few years.

He was nineteen when he died. Four days after his nineteenth birthday.

Suicide, or so they say. 

I don't believe it. Not for one single moment. Anybody who read his last e-mail to me could see that he wouldn't kill himself. Not just two weeks before he was supposed to come back for a visit. Not when we had plans to spend three days together, catching up. Anybody could see that he wasn't depressed, or unhappy. I knew him better than anybody in the whole world. He told me everything. He was the brother I never had, the twin I should have been born with, the friend that never crossed boundaries of friendship to infatuation. Steady, true, and good. 

I don't have a lot of experience with death. Mostly I compartmentalize. I lock things away in the darkest corners of my mind where I don't have to think about them. I write them down, set them free. But sometimes they come back to me, and the hardest memories to recall are the ones where I lose someone. I'm not used to not having things my own way, but there is no amount of bargaining or compromise or stamping my feet or crying or screaming or throwing things that could bring back the people I've loved and lost in my life. I cannot bargain with science. I cannot turn back time and make things different.

I can only remember. And the people I love now and the life that I live makes me happy, and I am grateful for my happiness because so many people are not as fortunate as I am in love and life and family and friends. I have Padawan and Choo Choo, I have music that I play for my own enjoyment, I have a job that I love despite it's imperfections, and a family that, despite our differences, will always be there for me. I have friends that have their own lives, but when we find time to meet it's like no time has gone by at all and we're all the same as we always were, different but somehow the same. Part of each other. 

I may shrink away from casual human contact. I may not like to touch and hug and show affection through physical closeness as so many people seem to do, but I have a deep and profound emotional connection to the people who matter. Even to people I have never met, it seems, because here I am spilling out my regrets and sadness to you when I haven't discussed these things since Alex died on February 21 and I told my friends on the 23, and I never said another word about it. I don't talk about him to anyone.

There's too much guilt. Breaking our plans, not calling enough, putting off that last e-mail.

If I had answered his e-mail would it have changed anything? Maybe he would have been at home e-mailing me instead of dying in that car.

Maybe I could have changed everything.

Maybe I could have changed nothing.

And I still don't believe he killed himself. Never. Not in a million years.

I wish he was alive. He and Padawan would get along famously. 

I've always said that J-Lynn and Mouse are my best friends, and Padawan obviously. But Alex was there, too. He was there, right there, in the same way they were. There for me. And all I have to remember him goodbye are my memories, few and far between because we lived in separate towns and then separate states, and this poem that he wrote for me that I laughed at but kept for all of these years. Because he was my friend, and he wrote it for me, and I was Belladonna and he was Dangerously Dark Eyed and we were innocent children together who planned to conquer the world together, but we'll never get the chance. Because he's gone.

Gone like I myself will be one day, leaving someone behind to grieve for the loss of me. (Though I know several people who will laugh at the irony if I die choking on pork.)  Because such is life, and we are all of us human. We live, we laugh, we love.

We die.

We make mistakes and we learn from them. Regrets are a waste of time.

And yet I have them anyway, pointless as they are. And they leave me sitting here, wallowing in my own self pity and guilt, crying to my blogging friends for some sense of human connection. Because I don't want to talk about this out loud. I don't want to open my mouth and say these things. Who could possibly understand, in my side of the computer? Who could I possibly turn to and say, "My friend Alex died. He might have killed himself. (I don't believe it. Not for a single second. Not for a moment in time. Never.) And I never e-mailed him back. I never went to his grave. I didn't even have the courage to go to his funeral and tell him at his grave that I was sorry. And I might have saved him, if only I had answered him immediately. And now he's gone and I'll never have another friend like him as long as I live."

And don't misunderstand. He was only ever a friend, a very dear friend who I lost. And the way I felt for him is nothing like how I feel for Padawan. There was never attraction. Only understanding, acceptance, and maybe a hint of rivalry. And I miss him. God, how I miss him sometimes.

And...if there is a God...and there is a Judgement Day...will he stand before me on mine and ask how I could call myself a true friend when I might have saved him merely by being there for him like I promised?

10 comments:

  1. I have a favorite post from you now. Scientific or foolishly romantic with your faith, I think He knows. He knew then and he knows now. There isn't more I can add.

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  2. Chanel, I can't pretend to understand exactly what you feel about this. I can only say that I'm sorry about the pain and self-blame you've been going through for all this time.

    As an outsider looking in, I can't help but feel in my heart that Alex's death was not your fault. [I completely understand how you would feel that way, heck I'd probably feel EXACTLY the same thing in your place.]

    However, I would like to express my hope that you will one day find a way to visit Alex's grave and pay your respects. It will give you some much needed closure, I think.

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  3. If he is there on Judgement Day, I think that it's the last thing that would be said. Friends don't really think those things. They are happy to see us and what we build up in our minds are rarely going through theirs.
    Thanks for sharing this.

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  4. I think that was good enough, luv. If he could hear you from his grave, he could hear you here. And what better tribute than this post? His life, his words, your heart. The pain and guilt will fade a little, in time. I am learning that lesson myself even as we speak. All you can do is remember him fondly. I'm sure if he was that good a friend, he would have wanted that. Be at peace.

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  5. This was powerful, honest, and heartbreaking, incredibly written and sincere...and just...I don't even know what else to say.

    (I like the poem too)

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  6. Guilt, whether earned or not, is hard to bear. All I can think of for words of comfort is this - would he want you to feel all this guilt for the rest of your life, or would he forgive you, tell you nothing was your fault, and want you to be happy?

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  7. Scott, this is your favorite post, really? But...why? It's...depressing, honestly.

    Still on the fence about the whole Higher Power thing, though. Science doesn't explain everything, obviously, but I don't really believe there's an omniscient and omnipotent being floating in the clouds controlling everything.

    Candice, even if I went to his grave...I don't think I'd be able to say anything. Knowing he's gone is one thing. It's easier to keep it compartmentalized if I don't see his name written in the stone.

    George, I hope your right. I don't think I'd be able to look him in the face if he felt abandoned and betrayed. But who could blame him if he did? He was forgiving and loving in life...but maybe death changes people. It's not like anyone has come back to talk about the other side. (If there is one. As I said, I'm more scientific than religious.)

    Rev, I hope it gets better. Most days I hardly think about it. I've got lots of things to occupy myself with, but when it comes on strong it feels just as painful and strong as it was from the very first day. I hope things get better on your side, too. Your loss is much more recent than mine, you need peace more, I should think.

    Bryan, thank you. (I adore the poem. But I'm the subject and it's all flattery. Or I think so, anyway. I'm sure he'd like that you like it, even if he didn't think it was very good.)

    Doug, of course he wouldn't. He would want me to be happy and find peace. He would say he can't forgive me because there's nothing to forgive. But even in my guilt I'm selfish. I don't want to find peace or forgiveness. If he came to me right now in spirit and demanded I stop feeling guilty, I'd just be selfish and demand he come back. That's what I wanted then, and it's what I'd like now. To still have my friend. Friends like him are so hard to find and keep. I have never been so rich that I can afford to keep giving out pieces of my heart to be broken.

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  8. Scott without a faceJuly 26, 2011 at 11:02 PM

    As a writer, I find connecting with people to be a powerful tool no matter the content and clearly you have connected with me and all else who have left you with comments. It easy to lose yourself in trying to get everything right, be it with Grammar, or context, or punctuation. When you write from the soul, it just spills out onto the canvas and likely needed little edits. As Bryan said it was powerful and moving. I am very hard to impress. You have impressed me.

    I think one of the challenges you might have is delegating the infinite into a "being" who controls things from the clouds. You should hop over to myamgod.blogspot.com I am not sure what the hell I am doing there, but I think you might enjoy it nonetheless.

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  9. I'll make you a deal. You hold me up and I'll hold you up and we'll get through this together. Don't know if Alex would approve of me, but I know BG would have approved of you. (grin)

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  10. You have an award waiting for you! Hope you will have fun with it when you have some time. :)

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