words failed

I don’t know what to do here today.

I had already thrown over the one potential obligation I had (a pre-exam review session on campus) in favor of all pajamas, all the time. The sky is the shade of white that frequently passes for grey here; I hear snowflakes have fallen in Fredericksburg. A wind just sharply threw the leaves around outside the bay window. It is the kind of day where everyone looks out, and thinks, “What a mess of a day.”

When I’m finished blogging, I’ll watch the theology video lectures I haven’t yet seen, and read+read+read schoolstuff.

When I described what I see out the window, I burst into tears.

Because as I typed, I remembered: my first, truest reader will no longer nod his head and make a mental editor’s-check there. He died Tuesday; I can’t figure out how there were two days where he wasn’t there and I didn’t know.

This isn’t about him, won’t be about him; this will be selfish, about how my gut feels the same way it did when I was six and fell flat off the high dive. I hurt too much to be thoughtful. He’s my age; his birthday comes in February, maybe the 17th?, and he would have been 50, same as me come July.

We were sweethearts for two high-school years. We wrote and wrote and wrote, trading sheets all day. I have a bundle of his handwriting in my attic, both his real handwriting and the calligraphy that we (I?) decided we’d use in honor of our alter egos. I embroidered a strip of fabric for him to bind around his arm as he went into battle… I wonder what his mother, who has the terrible grief of surviving him, would/will make of it if he hung onto it? I know she has a bundle of my handwriting to recycle.

Since I claimed my identity as a writer, there has never been a time when he wasn’t available to read. To critique, in the best way, that starts from the spot where you, writer, know you are personally safe, so together we can all shape the writing to be its most best self. How can he not be there? I don’t know how that works?

He only slowly reclaimed his writer-self. I’ve been delighted in the past few years as he became writerly-intentional, feeding it more and more of his time. Wrestling when the writing wasn’t behaving, even—that’s where we find out how much skin we have in our own game. He even published a novel! The Voyage of the Dauntless, available on Kindle. It came out during the semester, so I haven’t read it yet…
…it makes me nauseated to say that. I’m so sorry, dearest friend. And I’m even sadder to know that I’ll never get to find out how the lights of Paris look from above-decks on the airship, because we won’t have the chance to read the sequel.

Dammit, Lebannen. Who now knows my name?

“[I]t is not only there, not in death only, that men take their names. Those who can be most hurt, the most vulnerable: those who have given love and do not take it back, they speak each other’s names. The faithful-hearted, the givers of life…”
—Archmage Ged, in The Farthest Shore, p 155, by Ursula K. LeGuin


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