I haven’t slept in a while and I am so tired. Things get dark each night and the darkness is like a deep navy blue, thick and suffocating as it lays over the room — but lately, I don’t fear the thick dark navy blue, I fear the glow. The far off glow that seeps in through the window when it’s open and seeps in through the window when it’s shut. The glow that reflects off the thick and smooth surface of the darkness, surrounding me from every angle. The grainy glow that penetrates the thick glass of my windows, and normally, might be soothing as it protected me from the inevitable quiet of the darkness, except it’s not.
I can’t sleep because I can’t remember what you looked like. I can remember your hair – it fell just beneath your shoulders, sometimes longer when you didn’t have time to cut it. It was a dark dirty blonde color, borderline brown, but not quite — like mine. But it was curly, a light curl that was soft and expansive. Mine is straight like a pin.
I can remember some of our conversations. I can remember the night I slept over at your house and we stayed up late, so late. We watched “The Mask” with Jim Carrey, for the first and the last time. We played Jenga and beat the floorboards like they were drums late into the morning. We laughed as we discussed the sour taste that fills your mouth in the moments before you vomit. Do you know what I’m talking about ? That little warning of what’s to come, or maybe a confirmation, maybe a sign of relief. It’s a familiar taste to me now. It’s the taste that makes me hold my eyes shut tight — tighter still, as my nose wrinkles in denial. It’s the taste that fills my mouth when I have thought of you for too long. It’s that taste.
We stayed up late talking about that taste as your dad impersonated Daffy Duck and we laughed along. Your dad says there was kettle corn too. There must have been kettle corn.
I remember your hair, and that night, and our birthdays, and how you are four hours and thirty eight minutes older than me. Or were. Maybe I am older now. Am I older ? I don’t want to be older. I liked it better when you were four hours and thirty eight minutes older than me and when we blew the candles out side by side as they drooped softly in the warm chocolate buttercream over the yellow cake. I hate yellow cake. I hate yellow cake, but you liked it and so we had yellow cake with dark chocolate frosting and I was not even angry, because you liked it and you were four hours and thirty eight minutes older than me. “The worst four hours and thirty eight minutes of your life,” I mocked. But I liked it that way.
I remember your laugh mostly, and sometimes your eyes too. Your laugh was the purest thing I’ve ever heard. I swear. It was light, like it defied the rules of gravity, like a small red balloon that drifts away from a small boy, crying as he stares into the deep dark blue of his shadow. The balloon was free, but not for long, not before it would float too high into the atmosphere and burst violently into hundreds of small pollutants, too free to survive.
Your laugh reminds me of Claire de Lune, it’s soft ascensions and lulls. It’s calm self assurance and strong sweeping bridges. When I first heard that song, I listened to it as I drove through the French countryside, staring into the rolling green hills speckled with wildflowers that bent gentlyn under the heavy breath of the wind. We drove through the hills as I listened to the song and waited to arrive at the cold deep dark sea, frothing under the grey humidity of Camaret-Sur-Mer. I loved the song, I immediately loved it. I loved it like I loved your laugh.
Today I could not get up. I lay in my bed perfectly still and I did not move and I did not sleep. I lay in my bed, perhaps in an attempt to still my body so as to lead by example for my mind. In any case, I could not move and I don’t know why. Yes I do, but you know why too.
Your dad told me when we spoke this morning that sometimes he feels alone in his sadness. Like everyone has moved on and he is stuck in his sadness all alone. How strange, to be stuck in your own sadness all alone. I wish I could tell him he is wrong, that he is not alone. I wish I could give him that, but I can’t. I haven’t moved on. That’s what I told him because it’s true. I don’t think you can move on, but you can’t be in someone else’s sadness either. He is still sad, and I am still sad and neither one of us has moved on, but we’re sitting stuck in our own sadnesses because sadness is sickening and lonely and sadness is that sour taste in your mouth right before you vomit.
When you lose someone you love, someone you thought you couldn’t live without, you enter this sort of club. You enter this club of those who have lost someone they couldn’t live without, and they gaze into your eyes with a look of pity and fear, and they tell you it gets better. They lied. I just want you to know that they lied.
It does not get better. The pain you feel the moment you lose your person, the one you thought you couldn’t live without, the one you find yourself suddenly trying to survive without, that pain does not get better. It does not fade, or mutate, or change, and it does not go away, not even a little. Like anything, you just get used to it. The weight doesn’t feel so heavy because your muscles get stronger. Your lungs don’t strain so much because they learn to be without the oxygen. You get used to it. You cope with it even, but it will never get better. I’m sorry they lied.
When I first learned that you were dead, it was my dad that had to tell me. It was the night of September 4th in 2018 and it must have been around eight o’clock. He walked down the hallway and knocked on the door as it pushed open like he always does, and looked at me for just a moment, breathing in what he must have known were my last moments as the me I was. “Your friend Imogen is dead.” he said calmly “she fell out of a window and now she is dead.”
I haven’t slept the same since. Three years ago I learned that you, my childhood best friend had fallen off the side of a building to your death in our small little neighborhood and I haven’t slept the same since. But you know that. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night with tears streaming down my face as I gasp for air. Sometimes that happens, but you must know that too.
A girl in your building said that you’re ok. That she dreamt you had come to her and asked her to tell your dad that you’re ok. I’m glad you’re ok, but what about me ? What about your dad ? What about us ? We are stuck in our sour sadness all alone and we can’t find our way out. You never find your way out. They lied.
I guess all this just to say that I miss you. Not just today, not just right now, but all of the time. I miss you, and the worst part is, I just want to know if you miss me too ?
Help Us Support Children and Teens
The mission of the Imogen Roche Foundation is to build emotional resilience and support mental health
in children and teens through project-based learning, social engagement, youth leadership and literacy.
The mission of the Imogen Roche Foundation is to build emotional resilience and
support mental health in children and teens through project-based learning,
social engagement, youth leadership and literacy.
The mission of the Imogen Roche Foundation is to build emotional resilience and support mental health in children and teens through project-based learning, social engagement, youth leadership and literacy.