The day will come, and the day will go. You likely won't find it any different than any other Friday...anxious for 5:00, excited for the weekend, happy to wind down from a tiring week and to shut off the stress.
For me, it will be somewhat different. It will mark a milestone of sorts. I will look across the canyon of 5 years, and see the life I once held as my own in the very far, smoggy distance. The life completely unprepared, the life immature to the swirl of grand, debilitating loss...the life before he died.
It's a lesson in humanity, to walk the shadowed path of grief. There is no packing and preparing for it. There isn't a list of recommended accessories to get through it, and there certainly isn't a clear way into breaking daylight.
In 5 years, I've learned about the power of choice and decision. I've learned that you can't love someone through or out of addiction. We are merely helpless spectators to someone else's self harm. I used to think it was as easy as offering support and unending love to an addict...
I was wrong.
Grief settles. It accompanies you through life like a quiet companion. The reminders are there everyday...lingering cigarette smoke, the end of a fateful song, the back of a person in the line at the grocery store who resembles the departed, and makes you wish....just for a moment. The edges come off... your breath becomes more steady, and the sun rises and sets everyday with your intentional admiration of it's beauty and impermanence.
There are quiet reflections on who he'd be now. Maybe happily married...maybe thriving in a job he loved, maybe rested and whole and at peace...maybe...maybe...maybe. The maybe's don't get under my skin anymore. I know the past couldn't have been different than it was. I know he wasn't fated to make it through. I know these things. And in the midst of knowing and accepting, and being conscious of the precious anguish he suffered, and that which he has caused, I can say this,
I loved my friend. In all of his broken humanity and frailty....I accept all truths of his existence.
There are many gifts out of grief. They are the kind that are only accessible when you're stripped bare of all you know, and only have one choice:
A new person awaits on the other side of grief. That person is someone you have yet to uncover, and thankfully, they're patient and wise and welcoming. The lessons from grief are singular and painstakingly your own. They dig out the ugliness of personal truths with an unforgiving, sharp brutality. At the same time offer the very raw experience of mirroring the potential we have to be better human beings on this remarkable journey called Life, and thus, challenge us to grow, and discover and become.
I'm eternally grateful that I wasn't spared knowing him. I will bear the pain of losing him for the rest of my life with the humble acknowledgement that knowing him was good. Knowing him changed me. Losing him changed me. Accepting him changed me, and changes me still.
Be well my friend, I know you're not far. xo