Woke up to sun.
For days, fog's been burning off the river so there's just a shifting gray cloud above the water, obscuring the brown bank of trees, the white line of snow on the ground, but not today. This morning the light lit the white into bright and even the trees were somehow lighter brown. The river was moving slowly, chunks of ice forming at its centre.
I do not feel good but the sun helps. The sun on the water always helps. I sit in the chair Kurtis bought for us in the second year we dated and watch the way the water and the light move together.
I'm underplaying how hard I find the holidays.
I said this to B, a best friend, last night. They're awful, I said and my voice was steady but the emotions rising in me were not. Those were huge and swampy and black and I didn't want to swim in them around him again. As it is, this week, I asked him to call me near midnight because I'd been scream-crying for so long that my eyes had swelled and I couldn't see the helpline number that urgent psych gave me months ago.
I used to worry B and I wouldn't be friends for a long time. I used to prepare myself each new year and think, okay, if this is the last year you guys are friends, then you've had a good run, you're lucky, really, to have gotten this long.
I don't do that kind of preparation anymore, obviously. I'm trying this new thing where I believe people when they tell me their truth, or show me their truth, like when B, on a rare day off, answers the phone near midnight, and just tells me about his day, because I’m crying so hard I can't speak and honestly I can't hear him either, or at least not for about forty minutes until the sound of his voice, the familiar rhythms of it, start to thin the black surrounding me, and I begin to hear what he's saying, what he's talking about -- he’s telling me about living, life, because somehow, it's still in existence.
After over an hour, I let him go and then I sleep with my phone in my hand, just in case.
Let no one who is grieving ever convince you, no matter how good their outward looking face, that the holidays do not drag them through it.
On New Year's day, I spend the whole day in a velour tracksuit, my gold hoops still in my ears from New Year's Eve, listening to an ER vet tell me how he did surgery to remove a foreign object from a dog's intestines only to have that dog die in post-op. I am alone in animal urgent care because my ten month old puppy MoMa hasn't eaten or drunk anything in two days and what I do manage to get down her just comes back up in a stream of yellow bile.
She has swallowed something foreign and there is still no consensus on whether it'll pass naturally or whether she'll need surgery. She's lethargic and quiet, so unlike herself I keep putting my mouth beside her little black nose and checking that she's breathing. When the doctor finally lets MoMa out of the hospital, she's on a bunch of drugs, and I have bottles more to give her. A decision on surgery will be made later.
I get in the car and clip MoMa into her carseat. I call B, because before I took MoMa to the vet, I asked if he wanted to get a New Year's day brunch together, and he said Yes.
It's now almost 5pm, so we've missed brunch, I say on the phone. I'm coming over, I add and he tells me he'll be home.
MoMa lays on the couch at B’s apartment and watches me make tea, then watches us order ramen, then sits in my lap as we drive to go get the food. In the van, which he imported from Japan and is far more niche than anything I would ever drive, I ask B where he stands on inflatable holiday lawn decorations and his answer is so perfectly him that I actually laugh. The first real one of the new year.
In February of this year, I will have known B for ten years and when I met him at a party all those years ago, I thought he seemed like the coolest. I wanted him to think I was cool too, so, it felt like nothing and everything the moment that I told him my name, opened to what would happen next. I knew we would be friends, I just had no idea how good.
Once, after an ugly fight with Kurtis, I stormed out of the house. Kurtis, of course, drove around looking for me.
When he came home, I had already returned to the house. I asked where he went to find me.
You know, he said, the people who would take care of you if I wasn’t.
Who? I said.
Your parents, he said. Your sister, he said. B, he said.
I told him it was a good thing for all of them that it was his job to take care of me, because what a job it was. He grinned. Our fight was so over by then.
Taking care of you isn’t a job, he said.
Sometimes, I still think that it’s too much for my friends to have to still be here with me, to be in this absence of Kurtis but I know if I say it to them, if I say it to B, they’ll tell me it’s not.
I’m telling you, if you have a best friend, or perhaps a few of them, call them or drive over to them or get a hold of them with your arms and tell them you love them, but don’t just tell them that. Tell them in the specific, tell them in the granular, tell them their blood type, and yours, tell them you don’t ever want to have to discover how deep the water is between you but that if it comes to that, tell them that there isn’t a limit. Tell them there isn’t such thing as too far, or too dark, or too much.
I’d tell B that too but he already knows.
… In case you were wondering, no, I won’t be writing the letters every week like I did before, but I have decided to write a letter when I feel like I want to — I’m still formalizing how often I’ll feel like I want to and sorting out what it’ll look like, so if you’d like to receive these occasional missives from me, feel free to stay or become subscribed.