By Christian LaFreniere
She is gone.
I retreated from the safety of my house repeating those words and ran to the deserted wharf with tears streaming down my face. The frosty nights’ air stiffened my resolve as I made my way down to the end. My heaving heavy heart broke. I sat crying, bawling, howling at the gibbous moon. In the distance, the waves broke across the jetty as I heard her haunting perilous call. I followed her Sirens song upward till I was lost with thoughts of angels and stars and endless nights.
The end of long wharf can be a comforting place. An extension, a connection to, but I felt more stretched and oppressed than ever before. I became lost in thought with the intense memory of her. How her grace perhaps not royal curtsied only to her smile. How her lingering laugh echoed through my soul. Her plush red lips ample and soft kissing me hello. I deeply loved her.
I’m not a wise man. I don’t presume to hold the secrets of this world, my world, your world in my pocket. I do attempt to hold it up to a rare light, appreciate it if from different perspectives untried for my enjoyment, but I can’t this time. This time it washes over me, covers me, blanketing me, nearly suffocating. My chest heaves as I learn of news that someone dear has breathed her last breath. This is not a gentle nap, but a violent entanglement catching my legs entwining them. I am incapacitated
I wish: I had seen the weight behind your eyes. I never estranged you. I could have been braver. I could have been your savior.
Time heals all wounds. It doesn’t. In an ounce of quiet time can stand still. Inhale, a life can elapse with the last sighing breath. A lyric I heard, “You can be addicted to a certain kind of sadness.” The idea seems masochistic and I am intrigued by the empathetic endeavor. If I never let this sorrow leave me will it feel like she has never left?
I let fear devour me, engross me. The dread of releasing her made me impotent in thought and feeling; oppressed like a thundercloud low and grey and brooding. I made a promise to myself to never let the grief abate. I will embrace it. Hold it close to my heart forever.
A somber solstice passed.
My friend is coming home. She isn’t rich nor is she famous. She isn’t traveling by private plane or a chauffeured limousine. My friend is coming home on the lap of her sister in a small cardboard coffin full of ashes; her ashes, her remains. She was a girl born amongst the silo and the straw in rural Illinois, pastoral bliss to some, but not to her. She was called here; beckoned here to a forked island with bay and dune like so many others in the past. Her last wish,” to lay my ashes in the only place I thought of as home. The only place I felt at peace.”
Memorial Day Weekend in the Hamptons is a springboard of absurdity and congestion. The Porkpie’s and Choo’s run amok betwixt the local color and benign attitudes fashioning unconceivable problems, possibly not the best day to pay tribute to my friend. That hot morning standing at my window, tying my tie, just right, I overheard the most bizarre conversation. My window, which overlooks a good portion of downtown Sag Harbor, I can hear every conversation from about 30 feet away; nobody seems to understand that they are not conversing anymore but shouting.
“Why do we come here?” porkpie piped, “There is nothing to do here.”
“I know,” Choo firmly agreed. “I thought this place was supposed to be cool.”
I just perceptively smiled, rolled my eyes and closed my window.
I didn’t drive to the memorial. I wanted to walk through town, our town, recalling all the good times; where we worked, played, sang, drank and danced. My soul-sista-swing-twista friend. Oh, those late sexy crazy wicked nights. The streets overflowed with strollers of crying babies and yapping boutique dogs perhaps unhappy by their genetically controlled size. As I made my way through, I respectfully paid homage to the bountiful banners of patriotism that lined the roof tops honoring lost heroes; my own included. I reflectively sat down under the windmill loosing time watching clippers swim with schooners with the devotion of a child.