I know you appreciate a good story, so I sat down to write this at 4 AM on the darkest night of the year. It’s taken me a while to get around to writing this, even though I’ve needed to for a while, because the setting hasn’t been right. You and I always loved starting things. Starting a new story, a new television series, or a new game. There was something magical in the potential of a new beginning. Creating a character was an entrance into some other world and there was a vastness of possibility ahead when things got underway. Beginnings were so important and we were addicted to them. I can think of countless half-formed ideas that we had and talked about, and I appreciated that you were always brutally honest with me when you didn’t like something. I would try and try and try to argue the merits of a thing and your response would stay the same.
No one could piss me off like you could, but in a good-natured way. I loved the stories we got to tell together. They are things I will cherish, whether they were made up stories, or real life stories we made up together. I will fondly remember you, me, Joe and Mindy in Arrowhead forever, it is one of the most pure and good moments I have. You’re one of the few people I know who loved animals as much as I did. Dogs mostly and I’m sure you’d give me a hard time about how ridiculously in love with my cats I am now, but that’s alright.
Sorry, I started going down that emotional road of just remembering great times we shared, but that’s not really what I want this to be about. The problem is I don’t have you here asking questions, helping guide the story. I’m used to that and it’s just not here anymore, and I don’t know how to cope with that. I’ve lost people before but this is different. I didn’t go save every email of theirs, every conversation we’ve had. It wasn’t important to hang onto those words.
Because your words are important Christian. You were a great teller of stories, and in that you and I were so alike. You understood the heart of what made a story good, and what it needed at a given point, but you (and I), were terrible at follow through. We were great at starting things but not so great at finishing them.
I want to say you finished this story without me, but that’s not really true. I can’t say your story is over when I think about you so much still, when everyone in the room pauses for a hitch in the back of their throats whenever someone says your name. The way I clear my throat and moisten my lips when I’m relating a story about you and just say “A friend of mine” because the rest of the story is too painful to say.
I want to make you a promise now. A promise that I’ll go through and reread all your old stories, that I’ll put them together and retell them, that I’ll assemble those stories into a grand new narrative. But, realistically, I’m probably not going to. I don’t have that follow through, and I think you’d know that, and would be ok with it.
What it really comes down to is that I’m pretty fucking lost buddy. I remember when I walked out of your hospital room with Paul that first time, that last time. Paul said “Ok man, get better soon” and I said “You have to feel better, we have so many more stories to tell”. The way the nurse looked at us was this mixture of appreciation that we were there, and sympathetic sadness. Mostly sadness (she was hot, sorry man I should have gotten her number but I didn’t).
Tonight on the longest night of the year I got together with my friends to light a fire and to burn through the darkness, the hope is to remember that tomorrow things will be bright again and the dawn will come, but I just don’t know if it will be bright enough. I keep waiting for that message from you. I still keep thinking “I can’t wait to talk to Christian about this” and pause.
Even now this story feels reductive and rings hollow to me. I’m writing through a haze of tiredness and loss. I don’t know who I’m writing to, or for. I don’t know.
I need a friend that I can message, someone I can talk to and ask about the nature of the story, about what would make the story better. Someone who can give guidance to a shattered narrative.
I need to talk with you again.
But I can’t.