A love letter to a friend in another realm
|August 19, 2000
It’s been nearly six months since you left this plane of existence and still I find myself sitting down to write letters that will never reach you, at least not in any physical sense. I miss you awfully, you know. A hundred times a day the ghost of you brushes against me, sometimes fleetingly. In other moments, such as this one, it lingers; the sorrow tonight is agonizing.
It is time for the hurricanes to form off the coast of Africa again. On the east coast of America, thousands of miles away, we who have been captured by the lure of the Atlantic and live as near to her as we can keep an eye on the Tropics. We are waiting, waiting... waiting. That a hurricane will make landfall here is eminent. Sometimes they form and strengthen only to sputter and spiral out to sea. We christen them with names like Agatha and Floyd as if doing so will lend gentleness to nature or inspire leniency. We gauge their progress, breaths held, battening down the hatches... waiting. We plot their paths, marking their journeys with pins on maps neatly crisscrossed with lines of latitude and longitude, and we wait... and wait. We congratulate ourselves for developing new technology to analyze their power and we pretend that we are always one step ahead of them. When we are warned that the probability is high that a hurricane will slam full-force into our lives we prepare ourselves with water and canned goods and batteries and candles... or we flee. All of it is fruitless. Pointless. For like death, no one knows precisely when the hurricane will come. Only that it will... someday. And so we go about our lives, mostly oblivious and ignoring the inevitable until a smiling weatherman pre-empts Oprah to warn us that a hurricane is churning toward us.
It seems since your spirit flew away that I find parallels to death everywhere. So many things remind me of you. Even hurricanes. Not for the parallel I’ve found to death, but for the love you showed when you thought I was in danger. A year ago, Hurricane Floyd was trekking steadily toward South Florida. You called me, frantic to know that I was safe and secure. You heard one of those cheerful news bulletins on the television and began to cry when you realized I was in Floyd’s projected path. I laughed. I didn’t see any reason for tears or terrible concern, but you set up a timetable, gave me your calling card number and made me promise to call you regularly until the storm had passed. I still have the orange piece of paper with that number written on it. Oh, Shana... such a wave of longing and melancholy passes over me when I think of how you loved me. You were moved to tears at the thought of something awful happening to me. And I laughed at your concern. I can’t think of one single person who has ever loved me so completely that even the thought of living without me in this world can make them cry. No one but you.
My tears for my loss are plentiful. They come without warning sometimes and form a crystalline pool on my keyboard, or drip from my chin and turn the faded indigo of my old denim jeans a blue as deep as I feel. I cry for selfish reasons. I told you I loved you at the end of every conversation we had, at the close of every letter and in every e-mail that flew through space to meet you. But I wonder if you truly felt it while you were here and it could have made a difference. A million times over it has been proclaimed that love conquers all.... I used to believe that was true. And maybe it is, and I will believe again. But why couldn’t my love save you? Did I not love you hard enough, strongly enough, fiercely enough... just “enough”? Or is it that the part of you that recognized and accepted love was so numbed by drugs and the pain of being Shana that you couldn’t feel my love. Let there be no doubt that you were loved. I believe you can feel it now, from me and your mother and Simone and Isaiah, from friends and lovers. I can picture you at whatever heaven’s equivalent of the seashore is, basking in the love we’re sending from Earth, basking in the love emanating from the Creator and all those other beautiful souls you’ve joined, soaking it up like sunshine.
I feel totally, completely, utterly, hopelessly alone at this moment. I want to be held and rocked and kissed and to be told that everything will be OK. I want to rage and wail and weep until I am spent and then I want to fall asleep in the safe circle of the arms of someone who really loves me. But I can’t think of one single person I can trust with all of the emotions whirling inside of me. No one but you. And you’re not here. You left, and we both knew you were going. I knew you felt as if you had to go... to save yourself. To save Simone. To save Isaiah. But it hurts. I know “why”. And yet, I don’t understand “why”. Or maybe I just can’t accept “why”. I miss you.
On the plane to Mardi Gras just three days... only hours, minutes, seconds after the light went out of your smile... I met a man. An impossibly handsome doctor with blue eyes. I was writing a letter to you with pages and pages of black ink flowing like a flood unfettered, and he asked what was inspiring so many words. He just sat there, listening as we crossed the Gulf of Mexico and entered another time zone, those blue eyes never leaving my face, asking gentle questions, guiding me to say what was in my heart. I don’t remember everything I said, I can’t remember his name (though I’ve tried), but I remember his kindness and I remember his eyes. I wish he were here now. I could share this with a stranger....
We’ve all got our own private storms to endure. Some of us are better equipped than others to handle the rain that falls sometimes, to stay true to our courses despite the winds that toss us, to appreciate the calm when the eye of a particularly heavy storm passes over our souls. Others among us simply surrender to the power of a hurricane after whatever little bit of security that keeps us sane is swept away in the torrent. A hurricane killed you, but I watched you fight valiantly to survive and your struggle, your unwillingness to relent made me love you more. In the end, despite all the warnings and technology, we are all powerless against a hurricane.
I love you, Shana. Always.
P.S. Funny thing about hurricanes... if the land mass they encounter is large enough, it always destroys them. Sort of reciprocal destruction. I believe that the power of you, Shana, was large enough to kill the evil and pain of your private storm. The love that emanated from you was always more awesome than anything else around. Your babies are safe. The storm has passed. Sail on, Silver Girl. Your time has come to shine.