Never quite whole again

Went to the gym. Did dishes, made my bed. All that stuff I promised I’d get back to – I did it. Even opened up my script and wrote 2000 words.

And it felt right to get back to the day to day. Solid, real. Reminded myself where I am. When I am. Who I am.

But I am still mourning, and it’s a private grief. There is not one person in my life today who met L, so for them it’s like saying a celebrity died – distant and cerebral. Even heard from someone I shared my sob story with, who said just that, which is why I bring it up…because the statement felt cold. Really? You’ll compare my losing someone I spent every day of my 20s with the death of a celebrity? You think that compares? Cold.

Maybe I’m just being a bitch. Maybe the person who said that really did get shaken down to their bones. Maybe, in secret, they flew off to the UK and spent many long afternoons and evenings with their hero, David Bowie. Maybe they remember Bowie shooting pool with them. Being at their side when their parents died. Maybe they spent hours on the phone, all hours of the day or night, talking. Just like I did with L.

Or maybe not.

No one says ‘I love you’ to me. Not even in writing. I do. I tell people I love them at the end of my letters. That is, I tell them I love them if I truly do love them. I don’t just write it for everyone. It’s a select bunch, I’ll give you that. Not many I’d say it to. And I know not everyone is comfortable saying it. Not everyone can say it, even in the written word. There are several people in my life who aren’t in the habit of saying it, yet I know they care about me because of how they treat me. They are there for me, consistently. To talk, to help, to console. They never say ‘why are we talking about this again’ or ‘gee, I just don’t have time to deal with your crises anymore’.

Still. I’d like to hear the words echoed back to me.

Writing has become a thing. A real thing in my life. Not something I do when the mood strikes me, but something I sit and do regardless of my mood. And thank you, Goddess, for it! Hours typing away, creating dialogue and story lines…hours I don’t think about myself, or my sorrow, or the (possible) lack of love in my life.

I think I could finally write for a living now. Punch in the hours, type in the words.

The script is going well. Strong. Strong characters, strong statements. I need to modify a few things in Act 1. Add in one or two historical references. Make sure I’m not using contractions (I know I have to comb over the beginning for those). But I don’t want to modify Act 1 yet. Keep moving forward. Get through the whole thing. Otherwise, I run the risk of spending the rest of the week editing Act 1 – which is truly silly, since I haven’t written the end yet. Finish it off, THEN go back and tinker with the beginning. You know that!

Go! Write! Forget!

Forget.

Strange how I bury my sorrow in words that remember.

Today is another gym day. Get my ass over there and sweat. Regret, after 7 minutes, getting on the cross trainer. Feel I’m gonna vomit after 20 minutes on said cross trainer. Then over that hump. Into the endorphins. Smile, when my legs burn. Laugh at the sweat dripping off me. I wonder if L kept up on exercise. Is this the reason I’m living longer than my mates? Because I get off on it? Do I have an addictive side that’s so hung up on exercise highs I return to physical activity throughout my life in order to feed my need?

Fucking hell. Can I finally turn that weakness into a strength?

Find my soul a little more forgiving. My urge to grasp happiness a bit more conscious and aware. My weaknesses are not insurmountable mountains in my path, hampering my every move, but flat spaces of nothingness I can build on.

If the value of a person lies in the lessons they teach us, L was valued very highly, indeed.

No wonder they say growing old is scary. It sure as fuck is! Hearing about or, worse yet, seeing the people you know and care about die – fucking die – is terrifying.

…People want to talk so much about money and finances these days. What’s your 401K look like? How much is in your portfolio? But no one ever talks about our emotional investments. How we invest so much in the people in our lives. Not just the big memories, but the day to day stuff. The dreams, even. Dreams of them, of seeing them again. And when we lose someone, we go bankrupt. Immediately. All of that is lost. The comfortable chit-chat and grousing over our routines. The irritating habits we snap at each other for, then later regret mentioning. The things we think we’d like to be rid of, and the things we think we can’t live without. Gone, in an instant.

We are left in an open wound of love and sorrow, and facing the huge obstacle of putting our lives back together again. But we are missing a piece.

And while working a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle maybe be fun even if a piece is missing, the picture is never complete.

We are never quite whole again.

I knew her

I called the number I found for L. There was a pause, while the lines made the long connections across the Atlantic. And then – a ring. My heart jumped. Two rings. What was it I was going to say? Three rings. I was ready to hear my old friend’s voice.

When a Midwestern drawl answered, I barely comprehended what was said. I kept on the line, listening as a pre-recorded message read off a list of extensions.

It was a company line.

Which means, of course, that the number’s been recycled. No one ever tells you that. That the new phone number you feel all shiny and happy about in your brand new home is probably from someone who died. Goddess! We pick the electronic bones of the dead.

Found a handful of photos. All of them were from one trip: our infamous Grand Canyon/birthday bash in Arizona. Most are too distant. L along the handrail by a huge backdrop. A few were taken at night, when we rented a limo to take us out to the clubs. I had a lousy camera at the time, and all of the nighttime pics are overexposed from the flash. But there’s one. One picture that shows the L I remember. We were in the car, taking some back roads to an out of the way hot spring we heard about. She’s driving, with sun glasses on. I must have told her to look at me for the pic; she turned, and in typical fashion of L at that time, she stuck her tongue out at me. That’s the picture. Not the ones of her and I trying to look grown up as we stood by the limo. Not the ones in the hats. That one, with her tongue sticking out. That’s the one that made me cry.

My brother was gone all afternoon; he’s found a band to work with and he was at his first rehearsal. When he came home, he was full of energy, full of stories about the day. I kept quiet, my responses limited to short exclamations of happiness on his behalf. It kept on that way all thru the evening: me wanting to bring all this up, yet saying nothing.

11 p.m. The last episode watched for the evening, I muted the tv. And in that heartbeat of silence, I told my brother what happened.

Not just about the phone call. About all of it. This obsession that came over me the last 48 hours. How, while waiting to make that phone call, I googled other things. Pictures and videos of my old home town. Walked the google street views from my old high school through the local village and up the hill to my dad’s house. Took a car trip along Lake Michigan. Places I’d travelled thousands of times in my youth. Places I could have driven blindfolded when I was 21.

There was little I recognized.

Buildings downtown, large skyscrapers – they’re still there. Still look the same. The lake is still there. Fair grounds: just as I remember.

But the trees were all different. Many were too tall, and now obstruct the view I grew to know as a young woman. Streets were widened. Shops had changed hands.

The more I looked, the more nostalgic I grew. It was a strange nostalgia, though. A ‘member-berry nostalgia. Because it wasn’t real. I knew that even as I felt those tugs at my heartstrings. These pictures didn’t include the heat, the humidity, the insects. The audio didn’t include the crassness, the ignorance, the bigotry. And even as I felt I’ve missed so much! I knew I hadn’t. I left because nothing ever happened.

Ended by searching my eldest brother. Figured I needed to see what info was available on him, someone I knew, before I could make a judgement on the info I had on L. Odd thing. I found a sales record of the family home in 2005. And a new address for my brother. He never mentioned selling the house or moving.

…You know, some idioms are like onions: so many layers, it takes a lot of peeling to get down to the core. You can’t go home is an idiom heavy on my mind today. Thought I fully grasped that one years ago. Turns out there was a whole other layer to it that I didn’t even know existed until it was ripped away.

I’m leaving the past behind. Letting it go. My brother agreed that, when we have a bit of extra cash, I can pay for a death certificate search for L through the state records. Just don’t know if I’ll ever hear anything from her daughter. For all I know, I was demonized in her eyes. The bad girl that led her mother astray. So I’ll rely on that cold confirmation of public records. But for me – I don’t want to lose today because I’m caught in memories of the past. So I’m snapping myself out of it. When I’m done with this post, it’s dishes and bed making, then off to the gym. Gonna run my lines for the play, and get some writing done. I’ll listen fully to my brother, engage in real conversation. Later in the week, I’ll take the metro downtown and just walk around, window shopping. Remind myself of where and when I am.

I could get that picture of L reproduced in a larger size. Get it framed, put it up on my wall. And maybe I will. But more than that, I want to write her. I don’t know that I’ll ever capture the person or entity I remember. I feel it my duty to try, though. She was and will always be someone who had a great influence over me.

And I have no doubt that I will see her again. Not in the same form, obviously. But I know we will meet again. Our friendship was one of those strange old soul things; we knew each other the moment we met in this life. It’s strange to say that, because I can’t honestly say I know that much about her physical life here. Who were her friends, other than me? I don’t know. What happened all those years we didn’t speak? I don’t know. But that…that’s surface stuff.

I knew her.

Vigil

The internet is so not free. Nor open. Searching for an old friend from overseas is frustrating, to say the least.

I have an address and land line.

I also found a death notice that claims L died at the age of 45.

Searched for an obit. All afternoon. Found nothing. Plenty of places I could cough some money up to, places that may or may not have any further info on her. No word from the message I sent out to her daughter. Found her husband, after a prolonged search. His online status lists him in a relationship with someone other than my friend.

I’m thinking of dialing that land line number this afternoon.

…Not even sure I want to know the truth. In some ways, people who live only in your memory are already dead. You think of them in terms of the past.

Keep telling myself it’s just an online mix up. One of those bullshit things that happen. I searched for her name and a death certificate; obviously, some site out there is gonna claim to have one. Thinking how silly I’ll feel if I call and she picks up. Of course she’s still there in Wisconsin. Of course she’s alive. How silly, how silly!

Yet…we’re talking about someone who was working with computers before computers became the thing. I have a difficult time believing she would have no social pages, no posts, no professional links whatsoever if she were alive.

Dead? At 45? That would make it 2010. Seven years ago.

And what does that make me? If ever you’d ask me, I would have said L was my best friend ever. Never had another connection with anyone that rivaled the bond between us. If she’s been dead for seven years…and I didn’t even know…

Can’t wrap my head around this. I’m in denial.

Want to find her photograph in my pile of memories. Look at her face. Demand her to be alive, be real.

…Goddess. I have to make that phone call.

Is it silly to mourn so belatedly?

The strange thing is, when people from your past die, a part of your memory dies. All those things we did, we crazy 20 something young women – now, maybe, I’m the only one to carry those memories. There is no one to reminisce with. The memories becomes stories, the stories become legend, the legend fades away and becomes forgotten. Somehow, thinking of L as alive – even tho we lost touch and hadn’t spoken for years, even tho we parted on less than ideal terms – it made the world a little less cold. There was someone out there who remembered me.

Now…now I have a four hour wait before I can dial the phone. A four hour wait to think, and remember.

A vigil. Light a candle, and pray like hell.

Beeps the Kid

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It’s been a few days since I spoke to Ulla. Part of letting her go. While I’m relieved to no longer be crying so much, I can’t help but be aware of the heavy wound I carry just beneath the surface. It makes me go out on walks. Makes me smile even tho I walk alone because some part of me tells myself to look up, look at the sky and the trees and the sun and be glad to see such a beautiful day with these eyes. It makes me call out hello to people who might slip by me otherwise occupied in their own thoughts.

Feels like my soul got shot up with novocaine. I’m still there, still capable of saying ‘ow’ if you hit the right spot, but it’s an ‘ow’, not a howl of a torn spirit. And it hit me all at once, unexpected. Just woke up this way. I found the effect so extreme that for the first time since my beloved Sable died I was able to look at a picture of him looking AT me without crying. Up ’til now I could only look at one picture, a side view of him gazing off into the distance.

I’d heard of the technique of using one fire to kill another. I just never had it happen to me before. Yet that, it seems, is what’s happened. Because now I can look at a picture of my last cat and just say ‘hi, beautiful’ without that punch to my middle that forces all the air out of my lungs.

Today is my language lesson, and the old stress of will I walk out or won’t I is back on me. Forty-five minute tossing and turning was my morning limit; out of bed at 5 just to have some coffee and shut my head up as best as possible. Can I register my disappointment in myself right now? I find it beyond belief that this last week I’ve been wracked by so much, yet here I am, right back to worrying over something I shouldn’t BE worrying about. But no matter how much I tell myself I’m gonna be an adult and all grown up about the situation I STILL worry. Still run things thru my head, over and over. Still drag my ass out of bed even tho I’ve got puffy dark circles under my eyes because better to be up facing my demons than half asleep, at their mercy. Good goddess. What will it take to get these lessons thru to my subconscious?

It’s all just sitting there. Life. Waiting for me to dig in up to my elbows and get dirty. That same old reluctance is on me. Same old fear. Didn’t even bother to change its clothes; still wearing that tattered old coat that stinks of stale sweat. I am not thrilled to see my old traveling companion. Thought you were leaving, I say. Never, comes the reply. And I realize fear is a liar, always has been a liar. We tend to say ‘my courage left me’ but that’s not true; it’s your fear that comes and goes, not your courage. No matter how many times you banish that bastard son of an emotion, it sneaks back through your borders and suddenly you find a nest of fear in yourself, a knotted growth that seems tied to every facet of your life. Fear doesn’t keep its promise to stay away. It seeps in through the cracks, dampens even the happiest of times with its cold, sucking hands that snatch away good thoughts and confidence.

Liar.

The animal I inhabit – what a great way to put it! – has got the fight or flight reaction going. But I’m not that animal. My job is to hold it in check. If it were as easy as a jockey riding a horse I wouldn’t be bitching. But it’s not. It’s a jockey hooked into the emotional status of the horse. I can feel the racing pulse. The antsy energy running through the limbs. The anticipation of that opening bell, the race begun, the hell bent energy on getting there, getting there first, running full out because that’s what the animal does…And I can’t let it. I have to rise above what I’m feeling and keep it in balance. Pull on the bit, use the crop – I feel it all and hate myself for doing it even as I know it’s necessary (this. is. necessary.).

Bit time: Whatever happens today at my lesson, I gotta keep my cool. If I walk, walk with dignity. I’ve seen people walk without dignity and it ain’t pretty. Burn no bridges, make no waves. There’s only one thing I’m interested in today: do I feel like it’s a waste of my time? Never felt that way in my last class. If it comes up for me today, that’s my hint. Time to say the words: Dit werkt niet voor me. Simple enough. Crop time: If I’m confused or uncertain today, I’ve got to ask. Even if I have to use English. Anything – and I mean anything – that makes me question if they think I’m stupid or ignorant or wrong MUST be addressed. Wat bedoelt u? Speak up and get some answers. Fluff offs or being told to read it in a book: go to bit time.

A solid loop to keep myself in this morning. Wat bedoelt u? Dit werkt niet voor me. Wat bedoelt u? Dit werkt niet voor me.  Those two lines are my left and right guns, respectively. Got them slung on my hip now, my Stetson pulled low over my eyes, ready for business. Keep my eyes on my opponent – watch for that twitch in the hand or face that’s so telling. Calm. Cool. I can take ’em in a max of two shots.

That includes fear. I can face him in his smelly coat now. Bang, bang. He falls. I know he’s a zombie and he’ll get back up. But for now he’s down. For now he’s inert.

Just call me Beeps the Kid.

For Ulla: Because You Believed In Me

10 September 2016.

The following contains quotes from Ulla, aka Blah from Blahpolar Diaries, in italics. I have no hope of reaching the locutions I feel are needed to remember her, so I used quotes. She wouldn’t want anyone putting words into her mouth anyway.


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Beautiful, beautiful Ulla

Her death tastes like a handful of her medications: bitter. I gobble it down *gulp, gulp* in one bite but it chokes me and makes me sick.

“I believe that our tears honour our dead, but it’s got to be real.”

Oh, it’s real. Too fucking real. My brother suggested twice that the news may be some sort of sick joke. However much I hope to see an email from Ulla telling me that rumors of her death are largely exaggerated, I know I won’t see it. I knew it the moment I read the news: Blah is gone…

Are you still there? 5 September 2016, 06:53 a.m. That was my last message to her. I try to not think that the message came through too late. That I should have written it 24 hours earlier. I try not to think that it was there on time. That she saw it, and that her reply was her suicide: no, I’m not there.

“I’ve lost myself along the way and I’d like to find myself again, even if it’s just to say goodbye.”

Ulla may have felt lost, but she helped me find my way. She helped a lot of people. Through her ups and downs, her crazed periods and her vomiting, she kept us updated with her sharp observations and raw honesty.

“True compassion is rare and horribly underrated.”

Yes. And she had it in spades. She was always there when I cried help. She gave and gave, so much. If only she could have given as much to herself, I think. If only..

“Chief amongst the things I’m never going to write about in the memoir I’m never going to write, is a chapter I won’t be calling ‘Grandiose Schemes and Ensuing Fuck Ups’. Because ja….. If selective memory deletion ever becomes a thing, I’ll be trampling people on my way to the head of the queue.”

And I would say no, no, Ulla. Your memories make you who you are. I like who you are. And she would tell me she doesn’t but she loves me for saying it.

“So, tribe, how are you doing? We might be the only people who can ask each other that and just tell the truth. No pretence, no sinking feeling, no feelings of guilt when the truthful answer is, “up to shit” more often than not. Here we all are, intense and extreme people, people who other people often think have our heads up our asses, but here we are and we’re so fucking compassionate.There are days when this tribe – you – get me through it without me melting down completely. There’s a lot more I could say, but I won’t, because I’d fuck up my reputation for grouchiness. Seriously though, thank you.”

In the two years since she began her blog, we climbed on the Fuck Bipolar Train with Blah at the controls. Her acerbic wit drove us on as she stoked the fires with her dragon breath. But she never kidded anyone. Ulla didn’t want to die; she just didn’t want to keep living.

“I feel the need to preface my answer by telling you that this isn’t a threat, just a statement (a weather report, if you will) – I don’t want to be alive. Oh dear, I shouldn’t have said that, I should never say that. Yes I hear you…. It freaks you right out, it’s unfair on you, it breaks your heart, it’s not a rational conclusion, it’s selfish, it’s… It’s all of that and more and now you’re hurting too. Ah I’m sorry, I’m sorry. You care because you love me and I open up because I love you, but this particular conversation only ever has one conclusion. It causes you distress and me loneliness.”

It was – is – hard to read. I wonder if she left a note, but why? She left hundreds of pages of notes right here. How could she be more eloquent at the end, when it was so obvious that the deeper she sank into depression the less she wrote?

“I get very silent when I’m feeling very fucked.”

And silent she went.

“So I swallow the pills, keep regular hours, get some exercise and basically live (mostly) like a model fucking bipolar patient. All I can see of the future is a dim road to an unhappy death. I have one dream and that is to go quietly very fucking soon after my dog does.”

My uninformed mind is playing tricks on me now and imagining all sorts of horrible scenarios. The unexpected death of her dog, Solo, that drove her over the edge. Giving up on that dream and leaving Solo alone. Even taking Solo with her.

Who found her? How did she do it? Where will she be buried? All things I may never know.

“I don’t believe that the dead suffer, I strongly believe that the living dead suffer every single moment of their lives.”

A paradox, then. I love her enough to not want her to suffer, tho that means I suffer myself. I’m not sure I give that willingly. I hold it out with one hand, full of love, and snatch it back with the other, full of loss. She is right; I have become the living dead.

“Everybody dies and there’s no way of thinking about it without being sad, and we should be sad when someone we love dies, because they’re worth being sad about.”

Yes, you are worth it.

“I haven’t learned not to rail against the very concept of death forever. It’s inevitable and personally, I think I will welcome mine when it comes. I’m not remotely interested in immortality.”

You are immortal, Ulla, in what you gave me and each person you touched. Knowing I will never read another post from you, another message, another joke, is one of the most horrible truths I’ve had to face. But I aim to live up to what you said to me: “you’re stronger than I am”. Not because the universe needs some proof that you were right.

But because you believed in me.

Just me, and Ulla

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I must sound pretty damned bad to all of you. On top of every friend checking in with me three times a day, I’ve just received an invitation to like a psychiatric clinic’s blog. Someone sent that to ME. Found my email and specifically sent it to me. Like an anonymous card saying hey I know you’re nuts; let’s make pecan pie it was there. More welcome was an e card from my uncle. He’s got those things set for just about every holiday imaginable. But this one he did special for me in my grief. For every six times that man says something that makes me crazy, he does something like this that touches me deeply. But it’s my eldest brother, still living the the states, who takes my prize for Narcissistic Asshole Comment of the Year. I’ve made a few small posts on FB to get what support I could. He left a comment that yes, death is so sad because it makes us contemplate our own mortality. Our own mortality? Like I give a fuck if I drop over right now. I had to explain, like you would to a child, that no, what bothered me was trying to continue to get through this SHIT called life without my friend because the world is a slightly less loving place without her in it.

What an asshole.

When I read it, Ulla spoke up over my shoulder: he’s related to you? Yes, I replied, and this comment is nothing compared to what my sister would write. I wasn’t exaggerating, was I? And her ghost voice says no, you weren’t exaggerating.

I talk to her when no one’s around. Out loud. I know that’s crazy. If death is the end I’m talking to empty space and if it isn’t the end she doesn’t need to hear me say anything out loud, she just gets it. I know it’s nuts and I’m doing it anyway because it gives me a thin sheet of comfort for a short time.

She complains every time I turn on the jazz station, even if it’s Ella Fitzgerald singing. I told you I don’t like jazz, she says. Even Ella? I ask. C’mon, everybody loves Ella. I hear a groan in my head, her only reply to me. Yesterday we searched through my smart tv system looking for a film to watch. Anything she suggested I had already seen or didn’t want to see. Finally we stumbled across Mr. Nobbs and both of us settled down to watch. It was a beautiful film, and made me think of Ulla all the more. So much does. From the hazy morning sunrise to song lyrics; everything carries an extra poignancy right now. Everything is that bit more complex – the beauty of a sunrise marred by knowing her eyes haven’t seen it, song lyrics I wonder if she would have liked, films I’d like to know what she thought of.

Caught myself laughing last night at a comedy show. A good, hearty laugh. One that started because I forgot, then trailed off as I remembered…That first laugh is the hardest. You feel like you’re cheating death it’s due, like you’re disrespecting the person who’s gone. But you also know that the person you loved wouldn’t want you to mope around forever. They’d want you to laugh. So you let the laughter come, and it feels good to laugh, and when you’re done that hollow place inside you has a little less soul sucking ability.

Tomorrow is our day of remembrance. I’ve cobbled together something, a eulogy of my own – for lack of a better word. Not that I expect tomorrow to be my last post about Blah. You may hear that theme from me for quite a while and I make no apologies for it. I loved her. If you want to twist that into something it’s not, go ahead. I don’t care what you think. When I let people into my life, I let them all the way in. And I love them fiercely. I loved Ulla fiercely. Didn’t take long; the first time I was feeling angry and helpless and she wrote to me ‘So, who are we going to kill?’ probably cemented it. For as little as she wanted to share with most people, when she took you under her dragon’s wing you found that yes, she loved fiercely, too. Enemies were to be destroyed via sessions with syphilis dipped barbed wire dildos and you were always gently cared for, nurtured, petted, and given succor to face another day.

Such a beautiful dragon.

Such a beautiful person.

I can feel the deep wound of her loss beginning to heal. By next week I’ll be able to try going out in public. Still I may tear up, now and again. Still you may see the pain flash across my face when the sun strikes my eyes or a song hits its peak, and that may be something you see for some time to come. When asked what’s wrong I will shake my head and smile and say ‘Ulla’ and that will say it all for me. Leave the muggles in the dark; perhaps they don’t deserve to know what treasures lurk beneath their haughty gaze. Or perhaps, as I hope, I’ll be able to capture her essence in a piece of work. Something I’ll make public. No one will get it, of course. No one will know the references.

Just me, and Ulla.

Heartache

Four a.m. and I’ve recovered enough from my first day of tears to cry again. That’s how mourning goes; you cry until you can’t anymore, until your eyes feel like two tiny sandpits on your face. Then you sleep, because crying tires you out like nothing else. And you welcome sleep, please come, please take me away from this constant pain, but sleep only stays until you’re strong enough to cry again. Then you wake up at 4 in the morning and start tearing up because there is no staying in bed once you gain consciousness and remember what happened.

Been going thru all my old emails. Usually not cleaning my emails from my sent file is a weakness; too much of that and I’ll clog my computer brain up. Been happy for it lately. I have almost a year’s worth of messages from Blah – Blue – Ulla – to go back and read. It was not easy to see, time after time, her telling me how sad she felt, how nothing and greyed out and ick she was. But my eye was caught by her lols and rofls when I made a joke. I smiled at her jokes back to me. I took heart from the fact she told me our correspondence was important to her.

Tried to go back thru her blog, too. That was harder to do. Harder to read and just harder to navigate. I hope no one takes her words down.

Everyone is telling me it isn’t my fault. My brother has been hovering. My online friends are rallying.

I’m just in mourning. Deep mourning. I keep saying that, and still I hear about how she’s in a better place, how I made a positive difference in her life, etc. etc. I know all those things. And I wish I could get this all over with in one cry and be done with it. But I can’t. That’s not the kind of thing this is.

I took her as she was. I realize that now, after reading thru our correspondence. She gave me hints, bits of her past – a breakdown in 2012, the death of her mother, a brother in the UK, living at 55 different addresses – but she didn’t give away much. Invitations to talk more about these things were met with misdirection. How are you feeling? she’d ask me instead of answering. She told me hearing about my life helped her, that she didn’t want to go into any of it. That was something I understood, that some pain is just too deep to discuss. So I didn’t push her. She was a newly pressed person with me; no past to draw judgement from. Maybe that was refreshing. To not have to go thru it with one more person, to not have another person question this or that over her past. I never questioned her sorrow or depression. She was sad or depressed and to me, she had no reason not to be.

None of what she didn’t tell me would make any difference. I knew her from the now, from what she wrote about every day. The slog we all go thru. And that’s where we connected. That’s where we became friends.

Been reading other people’s words about Ulla. She meant so much to so many people. She corresponded with so many people. And she was always so quick to help each of us. Maybe that was her way of trying to help herself. I wish she could have seen how perfectly wonderful she was.

Trying to write something for her. Trying to make it great and failing, of course. So I’m putting aside great and just going for honest. I think she would appreciate that.

As for me…I made myself get up yesterday, did the dishes, made my bed, brushed my hair and washed the tears off my face. Sent a note to my language instructor that I won’t be in class today. Everything stops. For a little while. I’m still too weepy to do public. Another week of healing and I’ll give it a go.

I cry. Distract myself, or try to. Pick up five different things for two or three minutes at a time. Time moves so slowly. I went thru four days yesterday. And always that dullness in me. The lack of shine. The utter sluggishness. The headaches from crying.

The heartache from losing.