I have tried many times to write about my friend James and many times the writing has come out sounding forced, and choppy. The thoughts don’t flow well and I guess that’s what I get, because I try to make it sound light hearted. There’s nothing light hearted about it. Then to compensate I delve too deep, where nothing makes sense. As a result the writing is unbalanced and broken up, taking incredible leaps and dives.
This is going to be my last try at writing about it. After this attempt it will all be confined to my personal journals.
James has been dead for ten years now. The feeling that he wasn’t really dead has finally gone away. For the longest time it felt like he was just away. It seemed as though he was just far, far away. I kept expecting to see him places. I kept expecting him to show up one day and say it was all a façade; he just needed to escape for awhile. I know exactly when that feeling deserted me. It was the summer of 2002. I was in Ireland/Northern Ireland on a mission trip through SPU. I was walking down the streets of Ballylinney and I swore I saw him making his way towards me. My heart leapt to my throat, my pace quickened, a huge smile broke out on my face and then as I got closer I realized it wasn’t James, because James was dead. In fact there wasn’t even anyone walking towards us. I had imagined him there.
That’s when it was final in my mind. Not at his memorial service, not a week afterwards, not when he wasn’t at my graduation, but in 2002 on the streets of a small village in Northern Ireland. I was with walking with my mission team and had a hard time holding back the tears that suddenly sprang into my eyes.
I don’t think I told anyone about that for a long time. I felt like an idiot; I was mourning for a person I didn’t really feel was gone. I was dealing with my grief, but deep in my heart I wondered if he was really gone.
I wrote a lot after James died. I wrote about him a lot directly and indirectly. I made a few people angry with what I wrote, but I didn’t care. I thought he’d be pleased with what I wrote. He always liked my writing, so I kept writing and sharing with anyone who wanted to read what I wrote. I thought I had to keep my creative juices flowing just in case he showed up unexpectedly and wanted to read something new.
James would show up unexpectedly in my dreams. Those dreams would catch me off guard and make me angry since he wasn’t around when I woke up. The worst were the ones that were so vivid and real. I’d wake up wishing I were in some sort of coma so I could live in a dream forever. I still have dreams about James. Although now when I see him I know I’m dreaming, but I still wish I wasn’t. Even with how well things are now, I still wish he was around. The dreams don’t make me angry anymore. I actually like the dreams now. They are so rare and I can’t be sure that his voice is right, but I’m still so thankful for them. That’s what I miss most, his calm voice; like music to a wild beast.
This makes my grief sound so current as if I’m brooding about the past. I’m not. That sharp, sharp grief that clouded me for so long has finally dulled itself down. It still hurts when I think about James and wonder for a split second what he’s doing, then realize what I’m actually thinking, but it’s not cutting and it’s not constant.
Not constant and yet it is; it has everything to do with who I am today. What I struggle with, how I trust people or don’t trust them, my interactions and my fears. It impacts so much of how my life is now that I can’t help but wonder what things would have been like if he’d never died. I have theories, but I can never know for sure.
One thing I can say with confidence is that James would have been pleased with how my life has turned out. Love was important to him and I am truly loved.