Choraltonic.

December 2, 2021

Today you would be 47. Today, if you were still here, you would have received an enthusiastic “Happy Birthday!” from me and from so many others who knew you, who loved you, like those who stood at your funeral, one after the other saying, “He was my best friend.”

You were my best friend.

You were the one who lied to me in innocence, convinced I was perfect. You would say, “but you are perfect!” when I was so far from, but love is blind blind blind, and you reached out your hands to navigate any room we stood together in, shuffling in small steps so as not to hit anything, because your blindness, your unseeing love, was so complete.

Growing up, I always liked saying, “we are very close in age. Only two years apart.” And that was true for 44 years. Now the gap spreads like a torn piece of flannel coming apart across a frayed seam, only I try to take safety pins to it, to close it again. I try to close it by meditating on your memory like the dear ones meditate on world peace or end of hunger. I try to close the tattered tear by reminding myself of what it was like to play, as small children, to be happy together in our individual, and in our shared, pursuits. You would play “fort,” and I would play “library.” At some point, I would bring you a cool drink in the fort, and at some other point, you would ask, “Can I check out a book?” Our shared world, when we were small. It was our story.

(Today you would be 47.)

When we were adults, we left behind the pretend games and you would tell me your troubles, and I would try to solve them, thinking I could make everything better for you. Then, I would tell you my worries and you would say with confidence, “It will be just fine—you always know what to do!” We were both wrong.

(Today you would be 47.)

The fact of this, your birthday, repeats in my mind, again then again. Each time, it is a little whisper, a trail of ashen smoke sent upward as a signal for my heart. Each time, my heart answers with a cry of recognition. It says, “I see you, I see the smoke! I know you are there!” It’s peculiar. It’s painful, it’s hard and it’s … I don’t know the exact word to define it so I’ll make one up. It’s choraltonic. It’s me dealing with your death, still and again. It’s me dealing with your death on the date that marks your birth.

It’s me, remembering. It was our story.

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