Your birthday is this week.
A few people will remember you.
I am one of the few.
I think what pains me the most, in my grief for you, is that I cannot share it. There was no funeral, no service, no people crying and hugging and remembering funny antics or whimsical stories. No photos or guestbooks or any thing about you. The few people I know that had photos or things of yours, suddenly could no longer find these things, or weren’t talking, and wouldn’t share.
I miss you. Not everyday, not all the time. If you were still alive, and I’d never heard the news of your death, I wouldn’t have you in my life on a daily basis. In fact, I was glad you no longer knew where I lived.
But, I grieve you, like nothing I’ve ever grieved before.
I needed to know, that you were still out in the world somewhere. Being Sean. Doing Sean things. And that I’d run into you again down the road. Always, again down the road. Usually, every time I returned to my home town I saw you or heard tales of you and your current life.
The thought that there is not a Sean out there, anywhere, in this whole planet, in this whole wide world, and that your brown eyes aren’t open anywhere, and your long fingers aren’t moving, and your voice isn’t rumbling, and you aren’t dancing, and that quirky mind isn’t clicking it’s often brilliant, always startling revelations, – I just cannot fathom it. It makes me feel alone in this whole wide world.
How can such a strong force, a bright light, even a seething rage and darkness, suddenly be so still?
What pains me so, is society, which never let you live in it, won’t even let me mourn you. I’m not allowed to speak of you, to anyone. No one will listen.
I’m not allowed to remember you without someone saying something harsh, and almost evil about you. Something vile or hideous, to admonish me, for being sentimental about you, foolish about thinking I am sad over someone like you.
I grieve you. It pains me in my heart and soul. I feel it in my gut like a stab. It always takes my breath away. When I realize, you aren’t here, ANYWHERE, anymore.
I drive by your old house everyday on my way to work. My eyes always drift down your street, and I see our ghosts frolicking in the front yard, I see the funny garden gnome I left on that mound of grass in your front yard. No one there has any pictures of you, nothing of yours. I called to see, if there was anything because I needed something of yours to put my eyes on, to hold in my hand, some three dimensional part of you still in this world. So it wouldn’t be a total loss, somehow. Sometimes, I’ve wanted to go lay in your yard, and see if I could feel you, breathe you in, or conjure you up. Hear your voice in my head.
They said they’d painted your old room and got rid of everything. To completely make the break with that old energy, to move on from you. I guess I wanted it to be left like a shrine. Like the last time I saw it, with our stuff everywhere. Our Christmas lights hanging from the blue light on your ceiling. So I could walk into it and pick up a sweater of yours and hold it to my chest, and breathe your smell. No matter how people like to make it seem you were gross or less than human, you always smelled wonderful. You always had the best colognes. You always showered and dressed the best you could. You always smelled like Sean, and it captivated me.
I wanted to walk into your old room and see all your writing and our old letters and hold them, read them, take them home and keep them in my pocket so I can pull them out from time to time and hear you, keep you with me.
I wanted to walk into your old room and see your old records, and do the same, take them with me and keep you alive. Find some photos, some things of yours, or just lay down on our old bed and again, breathe you in, watch the ghosts. I just want to be close to you once more.
Sometimes when I drive by I have the urge to sneak in the backyard like I used to, and climb into your old room, and just sit there, anyway.
I can’t think where else in this world you might be.
When I didn’t know, I went through my days not thinking I’d want to seek you out. Now that I know you are gone, I want more than ever to see you again. To rush to you, feast my eyes on you, every inch of you, hold you, be held in your arms, feel your hair in my hands, see your eyes so large and haunted and luminous, hear your voice, laugh with you, hear from you what happened, and talk about our long lives and all the future that is to come.
We never realize it is the last time we will see someone. We always take for granted there will be another day. I can’t comprehend, where you are now, if you are now.
I really need to know, where you are now. If you ceased to exist, or if you are in another form or dimension, hanging out. And if you are still you, are you still Sean? Or are you something else.
You are not the first person I have lost. But your loss is deeper inside me than anyone else has ever been.
You were my first love, in many ways. You were my first real lover. The first man to know how to reach all of me, and I think one of the first to really love me like you did.
It doesn’t matter to me, that other people say you never loved anyone. I know you did. I knew you.
I think I knew you better than I have ever known anyone, and that you were the only one that I have ever been with where there were no longer any boundaries between us. It was you and me, for a long time.
You were my person, and you said I was yours.
Neither of us had the support nor connection to family and society that people around us did. We were always on the outside looking in. Your view of the world is something I will never forget. I understood you. You were often, on the outside, what I felt on the inside…
And I miss you.
I don’t care that you were a trickster, or a criminal, or an outcast. I don’t care that you were scary, and dangerous, and violent. I don’t care that many didn’t like you and that you had nothing in this world to call your own.
You had me, for quite awhile.
And I never held what you did and who you were against you.
Sure I got mad at you, and I kicked you out of my apartments sometimes, and I yelled, and I pretended often that I was done with you and wouldn’t put up with you, and I couldn’t trust you in many ways. Sure.
But you were my Sean. In some ways I could trust you more than anyone. And I always let you back in.
You were as you were. You never pretended to be anything different. You had a hard life. You had no one. You had mental illness. You had addiction. You also had the best laugh and the greatest sense of humor and the insane ability to make anything out of nothing and to keep going on, and on, and on.
Yes you stole from me. Yes you took over every place I lived. Yes no one could get rid of you once you showed up. Yes you were an asshole.
You were also kind, patient, and loving. You cooked for me and always made sure I had food to eat. You cared for me when i was sick. You literally carried me around, on your shoulders, your back, in your arms, you held me and jumped into many, many swimming pools. You kissed me all over under water.
You bought me things that touch me still. Like beautiful jewelry, clothing, hats, tattoos, poems, artwork, my favorite books and music, and you took care of me as best as you could.
No one else had ever lifted me up so high, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, sexually, and substantially.
No one else had ever knocked me down so low in all the same ways.
But I love you still.
You spent time in the woods with me. You never met an animal that was a stranger to you. I watched them all trust you, dance with you, light on your hands. You spent time sitting with me for hours and saying nothing. You read all my writings and you analyzed my mind. You talked for hours all night long, with me, and I you. You endured my family with me. You stood up to my mother, one of the few people to see what was really going on there, and be very outraged and vocal about it. You came to my rescue when I was beyond the will to live, and had a little boy to care for all alone. You would wrap me up in your black coat, safe inside from the wind and pressed against your strong chest, like a baby bat in its mother’s wings, I was home.
You gave a shit about me and my son and what happened to us. You fed us. You tried to make sure I had massages and chiropractic care for my back, that I could sleep, and that I was safe.
I will always remember you, taking car tires off every car in the neighborhood, and wheeling them to my car to see if they fit, trying to fix a flat for me. We didn’t have money to fix a flat. We never had anything but each other. You didn’t realize that you could look on the tire for a number size and then match them up, so you just tried every tire you came across. You didn’t mean it maliciously, and when I showed you the tire size numbers you were amazed, “ooops!’ you exclaimed, like a kid that let a balloon go on accident. You had spent more time in foster homes and institutions than the real world, and you honestly just didn’t know how to get by in the real world. Tons of research has shown now, what happens to foster children that exit out of the system with no life skills, no support or resources. You were the poster child. Now they try to do better, because of all the children that were lost before. You were a casualty of ignorance, and being born in the wrong time and place. There were not enough services for you. Had their been, maybe you could have made it. You sure wanted to. More than most I have known, you took what was offered to you and tried to make something out of it. But more than most people I knew, if it wasn’t offered, you just took it anyway.
You danced, like a mofo indian chief. You danced for hours, and no one compared to you, in physical stamina. We danced. We made love. Rose petals came out of me, our of every chakra, and you knew it, you saw them even as I imagined them in my mind’s eye. We loved. We slept wrapped around each other like kittens, like tigers in that jungle that burns so bright. Our little flophouse became xanadu, with you there. We listened to music. TRULY listened to music. Together we would lay and let the music course through our bodies and into every cell and take our minds on trips through emotional and visual galaxy rides, together. We painted each other’s bodies. We designed tattoos that would touch when we hugged, like two puzzle pieces that fit, so that we’d never be apart. Because you and I? We were always aware of being apart, and loosing everything and having no attachments and nothing to hold onto. So we held on to what we could in ink, in scars, and in steel. I drew designs and you tattooed them on your body to have me with you, even when you went away to jail, which we always knew you would again. And we would never be separated. We are joined by blood.
I stood by you and for you and up with you, even when no one else did. You called in the middle of the night once, and your deep gravely voice said on the phone, “Never leave me. Never ever go away. I won’t make it in this world without you. I can’t be without you, ever. Never leave me.”
To my greatest pain, I sometimes turned on you too. To my greatest regret, I did leave you, and I wasn’t there when you passed.
I knew in my soul, that at your core, you would have died for me, to keep me safe. You would fight for me. You would fight for your people. That’s what you did.
You fought for what you thought was right. And sometimes, you just fought for survival, your own survival.
I have never met anyone like you, ever. I have met a lot of people.
You were your own man, and no one could take that away from you. I never met anyone like you that was not afraid of anything. That was not afraid of laws or police or jails or time or pain. That would stand up straight anywhere he was, without fear, and was prepared to die at anytime, but would not sacrifice what and who he was to fit into a society in which he did not belong.
I loved the fierceness in you. And the strength I saw. I loved your eyes, your laugh, your mind and your sense of humor.
Your mind was brilliant beyond compare; only instead of an ivy league you had penitentiaries, a criminal mind.
We had a friend who was a long shoreman, and knew life from wise eyes. He said, “He loves you, and for a man like that to love a woman like you scares him to death. Of course he acts insane around you. He truly loves you, but he knows, he has one foot in the grave and one foot in the pen, and what can he do about that?”
You weren’t supposed to die. Not like that. Not so young. Not so far away from me. Not without a home. Not all alone.
You loved me, and I wasn’t there for you in the end.
To be fair, nothing I did in life to help you made a difference, though I tried. And I was young and foolish too. I didn’t know how to love and care, without hurting too. Without the games of jealousy and revenge and trying to act like I didn’t care.
One summer you laughed at us and said to me, “Ok, we both know we like each other by now, we don’t have to pretend anymore.” The last time we made love, we were older, and you told me that you loved me, and that you always would. And I am so soo glad, that I told you too. We held each other so gently, and I didn’t hold back my feelings for you. I am so glad I got the chance to tell you that, and I cherish that memory.
We were both sooo good at being cruel, at pushing others away, at defensiveness to avoid hurt and rejection and abandonment. What if we could have just loved? What if we could have experienced love and not more hurt and rejection together? Maybe, for a while, that’s what we gave each other, a different experience. I know you showed me love, and I will never forget it. This is a cruel world.
In that glorious after world, is it just love and light for you? Are you relieved of your pain and your burdens? I hope so. I wonder if I see you there, will we know each other? Will we be together? Or part of all that is?
You aren’t the only man I’ve ever loved. But you are the man that I thought I would always love. That we would see each other when we were old, and we would never marry anyone else. Maybe we’d end up together when we were old, retelling all our adventures, by a fire somewhere. You used to say, “You and me are different than other people. All our friends are getting married and settling down. You and me, we’re the last ones left.”
With you gone, that makes me, the last one left. Alone.
Sometimes, I have the crazy thought that I want to go on and join you. Or find you. See where you are and what it’s like. Sometimes, I have the crazy thought that I’m just biding my time until the day I do get to join you and see what’s next.
I know this is a grief reaction, and I try to be gentle with myself when I have these thoughts and feelings. This is deep, deep grief, and it takes time to work itself out. Even if I have no one I can share the grief of your loss with, I won’t judge myself harshly for the grief. I let it breath and let it flow, so it can work it’s way. It is a thing, real and tangible.
Grief, it is a hell of a roller coaster ride. And it is not over, till it is over.
Sometimes, all I want to do is sleep, and see if I can find you there, in my dreams. And sometimes, I do. Sometimes I think you come to see me in my dreams. In waking life, it is different; I have no sense of you. I cannot get a sense of where you are. I search and search with all my senses and feelings, and I cannot get a sense of you at all. And it scares me.
What if there is nothing there? What if there is nothing in the beyond? What if this is truly all there is? And you are nowhere and you don’t exist. What if this short, cruel life was all you will know? I pray, and pray, that this isn’t so, and that all you went through was not for nothing. That all we go through is not for nothing, and that there is some revelation, some enlightenment, some knowledge and peace and redemption on the other side. At least, light and healing and love.
All I know is that you left me in this world without you. And the grief I have around that is selfish. If you are in a better place, then I should be happy.
You haunt me.
Once the shock of the news of your death passed and I could think about it, the first thing that went through my head was our matching tattoos. I couldn’t fathom that the tattoos we got so we’d always be connected, even those would be gone. That the tattoo on the warm chest and beating heart, was now on a cold dead body, and that that tattoo would be under the ground and erode away, or be burned up, and not there anymore. Not even that. And then I wanted your bones. An irrational thought, but I wanted your very bones, I didn’t want them laying in the earth alone somewhere. We always collected bones and feathers and made things out of them, your native and my native, they considered these things holy.
And, you often told the story of the perfect sound, the perfect drum and music sound, could only be found by playing your own bones.
These things, I could talk about with no one but you.
I write them here, because I am not the only person to love, and lose, and be consumed with grief like this. And I will not let you die completely. I will keep your memory alive. For like your bones, our stories are that is left behind. The love, and laughter, we have known.
I remember you Sean.