Like every other time I’ve messaged you, your response was almost immediate. This time it took my breath away. The words. The lowercase letters, the long social media absence that preceded it. Your desperation was palpable. But you were still you. “I hope you are well.” That’s how you are. You are a fierce friend. Always the first to show up with support or applause.
I couldn’t breathe. You were so far away. Across the country. And now across a chasm I had no idea how to negotiate.
My next message to you went unseen. Not unanswered, but unseen. And I hoped. I hoped someone had whisked you away to a safe place, taken your phone and was watching over you until this darkness you were enveloped in lifted.
But word came. And when it did, I wasn’t shocked. I didn’t rail against it. I simply began to send you Love. I lit a candle for you, and one for me and all the others who would mourn the loss of you. I said prayers for you to find peace. As did so many of your friends. Candles burned for you for a week, dear Jennifer.
I am so grateful to have known you. We were so different and yet so similar. I could feel that you were looking for a deeper meaning to your life. And not just playing at it. You were a voracious seeker of knowledge. And a most passionate learner. I don’t think you realized that you were also a great teacher, a fierce advocate and a steadfast friend.
Whenever I messaged you, your reply was always swift ~ and you stayed. You stayed engaged until I let go. Why did I always let go first?
I wish I would have pressed harder to get you to open up about your pain, instead of giving you so damn much space. I wish I wasn’t always the one who let go first.
I wish I would have reached out weeks ago when you first started haunting my thoughts. I wish I’d known you were in a battle for your life.
I wish you were still here.
And yet I know I couldn’t have stopped you. Because I know that you couldn’t stop me if I had been the one shrouded in darkness. Maybe that’s why I friended you right away when you joined the group. Could I have recognized the part of you that also lives in me? A fervent desire to stay here but a willingness to let go if the pain of this life ever gets to be too much.
I’ll miss you. Our virtual relationship ~ and the occasional real mail I would receive from you. You changed me. You made me a braver, fiercer friend and advocate for those I care about. Not because I think that my being braver and fiercer could have kept you here, but because your fierce support and friendship let me know that we were always friends ~ no matter what. That’s the kind of friend I want to be.
You’ll be with me always. As I move through this life, you’ll travel with me. Your inquisitive nature, your attentiveness to relationships, the way you celebrated successes and held space for the sad and broken feelings. You’ll be here.