...his hand brushed slowly - deliberately against the nape of my neck...it was odd how he even found his way next to me on the couch - placed between Noah, tears still framing his eyes, and I. In my mind's eye he was still just walking through the front door, it felt like it had been years since I had seen him and with the weight of the day pushing heavily down on both my shoulders and my spirit - he was such a comforting sight.
My hand worked it's way to his knee - a hybrid of touch and accidental resting place - as we talked of Mike there was some shared anger and resentment, there was sadness and melancholy, and intermingled amongst it all were these three friends - side-by-side for the first time in so many months. Walls created, though not always visible - from the break-up and the break-down of communication.
... I didn't cry. I was offering my strength - a life time of knowing how to hold back my tears til I was alone - broadsided only once when Noah held up a teddy bear Mike had given him. He pressed the button on it's furry black paw - filled with some polyester or fiber, wrapping around the wires and tiny recorder beneath - Mike's voice, so fucking surreal - a prerecorded message "Goodnight Sweetheart". A chill climbed easily to my shoulder - when was the last time I had heard Mike's voice while he was alive ? Suddenly the realization that that last time - was the "last" time.
There were other visitors - some there for the same reason - some not. Smiles, jokes to break the tension. I can hold melancholy like a marathon dancing companion when I'm alone - but in front of others - I tell jokes, I laugh things off - I do anything but show what's going on inside. There was flirting, we watched movies and the hours passed. Should I go now ? What about now ? Do I go home and look through photo's, find the one's I'll bring to the memorial. Can I handle that - alone in my house - 3x5 ghosts slipping through my fingers. Where are the photo albums and boxes and pictures - at his house or mine?
Back on the couch - more bravely - I offer my reassurance by tracing patterns on the back of his head - my fingers dancing lighly across his shoulders - how many times had I been here before ?
We were here in unified sadness.
What if had been he or I ? What if I really lost him - could I live with that, could he?
Was there a message in Mike's death? No note - so what was your message - what would you say about the way we were conducting ourselves at this moment if you could ?