here is the thing:
it comes out of nowhere and it hits you and suddenly you're angry all over again, like it just happened, and really it is just that you miss your friend who is not here, but then you get so fucking mad at all of the people who asked if you were secretly in love with him all those years.
as though only a framework of romantic love could explain your devastation that a person you adore has died.
i am in DC, having just had a solidly glorious night, on my way home on the train, and there.it.is.
i miss him.
it has been 6.5 years and still there are these moments where i miss him so fucking much. i worry there will always be these moments, exacerbated even further by the reality that there will be more deaths.
there is no appropriate venue for this.
for mourning the loss of a dear friend you once dated who later died.
when i tell the people i'm dating, they always misunderstand.
they assume a man i was dating died while we were dating.
and i have to be like, no, no, it was after, it was when we were friends again.
they always seem slightly relieved. i can see it in their eyes: how it gets downgraded, becomes a lesser grief. something that leaves me dateable, where a more serious loss might not.
and yet it's somehow a less legible grief than those to which we're accustomed.
i remember, in my bereavement group, feeling there was a hierarchy.
one man had lost his mother, another had lost his grandmother under horribly violent circumstances. a woman had lost her sister.
i'd lost a grandfather, yes, but... a former co-worker... and an ex-boyfriend? two of my three losses required prefixes. this made them seem less than.
our therapist called me out on this, on how i would prioritize other people, give them more space to talk. she wondered if i was minimizing my own griefs.
but there is this hierarchy of relationships. if he were my actual boyfriend when he died, i feel i would have had a stronger case.
this is completely ridiculous, non? while also being entirely true?
were you in love with him? multiple people asked me.
i was not.
but why is that not enough?
his sister sometimes posts pictures on facebook and i really wish she wouldn't. because it is too much to see him there. i'd really rather it just be like he never existed. like how, at the end of the meal at a restaurant, when i am done with it, i want the plate to immediately disappear.
i want the memory of him not to exist.
that sounds so nasty, but it's true.
at the memorial picnic we all went to for him, our friend joosy had done some powerpoint slideshow of pictures of donovan being quintessentially donovan through all of the years that we knew him.
my primary memory of that picnic is the very great effort involved in spending every moment of it ensuring that my back was always to joosy's slideshow.
his face represented a significant threat.
i could feel it behind me, beating down like the hot sun, even as i could not bear the sight.
still, all these years later, he is a significant threat.
still, i expend the effort to keep my back turned.
but he is there.
he always will be.
though i may wish to forget it, it will always be true.
when we were just friends, hanging out in college in the spring of 2001, whenever i would go away for the weekend or whatever, he would take the sharpie and write it on my foot or my hand or whatever available space he could find on my body, the thing i long to forget even as i write to remember:
DONOVAN WAS HERE.