A decade out
It’s the same one I’ve been having on and off again for the last ten years: I’m in a crowd, in the city, somewhere, and I see him off in the distance, moving away fast. I start to run, chasing after him, yelling and trying to get his attention but he disappears around a corner. When I finally catch up, he’s gone. There’s nothing there, no one, and I’m left floundering and flat-footed, hoarse and shaking that he’s gone again.
It hasn’t quite been ten years since Aaron died but with the new year on us, I felt the sting of the impending 10th anniversary and felt like I had to get some of this out of me. To be honest, I haven’t thought of him much in the last year or so: I was trying to get back on my feet and stabilize my life and having him at the front of my thoughts was a little too much to handle. I still had the occassional dream, the same one as always, but in a different place or at some other phase in my life. A neighborhood in SoCal, familiar in layout but alien because it feels like a maze; my phone rings and I answer and I simply hear his voice: “I’m at home, in my room.” I’m off and running through the suburban labyrinth and I finally, finally get to his house and barge in, running down the carpeted hallway to his room. And when I get there… nothing. Emptiness, quiet, a stillness that even now, I cannot understand or accept. The only things there are the reminders of him, ghosts that don’t haunt but simply sit on the shelves and remind me, relentlessly, that he isn’t there any more.
Whenever this wave washes over me, my eyes sting and my arms hurt and I feel that emptiness. And as much as I try to analyze it, rationalize it and be scientific about it, nothing reveals any new answers and nothing feels comforting. I can’t imagine what he would be doing today, where he would be living and what we would be talking about. Just imagining him is difficult now and I feel like whenever I do try to visualize him as he was, he simply fades away. I guess my memories of him as he was are frozen now, stopped in time the day almost ten years ago.
I’m not sure if I’ve evolved beyond it or grown much out of it. A decade out and I still don’t see how I can let go or let it rest; I feel like I’ve failed him somehow, like he would be disappointed in me for how I’ve let my life turn out. I don’t know any more; I’ve looked in to myself and tried to find him there, ask him questions, but I see fleeting glimpses of him in the corner of my eye and then he’s gone.