Every time I write you a letter it’s because I can’t think of anything else to write about, so I just start off with “Dear Rob” and see where it goes.
Here’s something that might be something: I went to the movies last week, and while I was waiting for the Tom Hanks Mister Rogers film to begin (you would’ve hated it!), there were the usual zillion trailers and the last one was for the new Star Wars movie, which I probably won’t ever see because I haven’t seen one since the original. I’ve forgotten if you were a fan, but I don’t think that you were. Carrie Fisher was in this one for a few seconds—that’s Princess Leia to you—so she must’ve filmed a few scenes before she died or maybe they just CGIed her in, I don’t know. Anyway, it all looked vaguely familiar and I wasn’t really paying attention until I heard Luke Skywalker utter the last line—No one’s ever really gone.
I assume they were talking about Princess Carrie (and if you were here now, you’d call me Princess Larry), but of course that got me thinking about you. And sure, I get what they’re saying: that we’ll always have memories of our loved ones and we keep them in our hearts forever. It could’ve been because I was feeling particularly miserable on that day (which is why I went to the Mister Rogers movie in the first place), but I just thought it was total Hollywood bullshit. Because guess what? You are really gone! Forever! And even with all of my good and bad memories, beautiful photos, sad stories, and even if we had a CGI version of you (which would be super fuckin’ cool!), none of it adds up to bringing you back. I guess No one’s ever really gone—unless they happen to be dead didn’t fit on the movie poster.
Now that I got that out of my system, I don’t know how many more of these letters you’ll be seeing from me because I plan to stop writing on the anniversary of your death, which is approaching quickly and yet so slowly. Time’s a funny thing. Sometimes it feels like you just left and other times it feels like you’ve been gone forever. It sucks either way, so I take it back. There’s nothing funny about any of this. Which is kind of ironic because the two of us are such funny fuckers.
I figured one year of documenting the pain of losing you would be enough. I can easily zip right past that milestone because—spoiler alert—the pain ain’t going anywhere, but I’m not sure what else there is to say. I’m already a broken record with this brokenhearted bullshit. So tune in next week for the same sad story over and over and over again? I don’t think so.
It’s not like I’m going to stop talking to you altogether…which reminds me of how you used to pull that crap with us. Remember how you’d get so pissed off about something or other, and then you’d hole up in your room, giving us the silent treatment? The thing was—you’d never cut us both off at the same time. You always needed to maintain some type of connection, however mad you were and however slight it may have been. You were really smart that way. And in so many other ways. Of course, you were also an idiot and I think sometimes the crazy shit you did eclipsed how smart you really were. When I think about that now it makes me incredibly sad, but really whatever I think about when I think about you makes me feel that way. So thanks a lot, dickhead!
Another thing I’ve been thinking about lately is anger. All the other extraordinary parents in my grief group are still extremely angry with their kids for doing whatever foolish thing they did that caused them not to be here anymore. Whenever it’s my turn to share, I always say that I can’t be angry at you.
I can give you the reasons I usually trot out: You were in pain, you were depressed, you were struggling with alcohol, you had mental illness, you no longer wanted to be here—how can I be angry with any of that? You went from the darkness into the light and now you’re at peace. I also think that I used up all of my anger toward you in life, and there’s none left over for you in death. How could I be angry at you when you’re no longer here?
I still miss you every day and that’s why I continue to write these stories and letters and whatever else. It’s my way of maintaining some type of connection to you. And when I do finally stop, none of these feelings will go away. I’m not sure where they’ll go next and that worries me a little bit, but I’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. That reminds me of the famous scene we loved from Holy Grail when the knights have to answer three questions from the bridge-keeper at the Bridge of Death, which for some reason doesn’t sound quite as funny as I remembered it. A lot of things aren’t as funny without you being here.
One more not-funny thing just popped into my head. Remember the first time I went to see Fleur and it was part of a show? She said something about suicide that has stayed with me ever since: “The soul knows when it’s time to go.”
As much as it hurts me to say it, I now believe your sweet soul did.