I’ve spent the last while grieving. My best friend dead, I’ve spent it without my usual compass, without the correcting hand that gently steered me back to calm waters when my boat went adrift as it sometimes does. He was the calm voice. Larger than life, my friend was the personality that you wanted to know more than you ever wanted to know anyone. He was complex and kind, and shallow and soft-hearted. He was everything to me. We had once joked that we’d be the best gay couple, if indeed, either of us had homosexual tendencies.
I’ve spent the time wandering in the gray. I know the place well, but in lieu of its usual sterile comfort, it felt foreign and stifling. It felt as untrue to me as it would have been to him. And instead, amid my gray, I suffered his loss in the way I know how, via flesh.
I’ve changed shapes. I’ve lost muscle and gained it. I’ve reshaped my body for function over form. And still I’ve felt his loss. I’ve gone from eating 1200 calories to 5000 calories, and still have felt his loss. Somewhere along this jagged path, his voice replaced my father’s as the one I hear the most. Much kinder. Much more understanding, and much, much harder to hear in my head when the lights are out.
I’m used to my father, you see. I’m used to his dogged pursuit of perfection in me. I’m used to the demand of more when I’m tired. I’m used to the screams when I cried too hard over killing a deer. I’m used to the constant little corrections he’d make on everything I did, in an effort to improve my skill and thought process. I’m used to him. I’d grown easily able to block him out.
But not my friend. His voice is calmer. When I am tired, he tells me that it’s okay to sleep. When I am sick, he tells me to take time to heal. When I am empty, he sits in my head and keeps me company. I love and resent him.
Death is a thing that I’ve always had near me. This last little bit, I’ve experienced my share for a while and down the road, another patch will hit again. It always seems to go that way. I am not angry that he died. I’m angry that I am not over him dying. I’m angry that my grief manifests at the worst possible moments and that his ghost is still ever so HIM in my head. I’m angry that I am not him. I’m angry it wasn’t me instead. I’d much rather have taken the bullet on this one, so to speak.
I suspect his voice will be with me a long time. That he has silenced my father is a gift I’ll never be able to repay and he’d call me nuts for even thinking I needed too. You see, somehow in my father’s dogged pursuit of perfection in me, he created me, the exact opposite of his sociopathy. I understand him a little better now. John gave me that. It was his gift to me, along with his voice in my head – a kinder view, a kinder heart, and a will to keep pushing forward in spite of it.