This date is locked forever in my memory.
I don't remember when Dad died, exactly, or Keith, not the exact days. But with you, it was different. When Ann called me with the news, I stood for a minute staring out the window, at the ice and snow falling, the streets and houses five stories below so gray and cheerless, the whole world drained of color. Then, turning and looking around the apartment, my eyes stopped on the EC Comics calender on the wall. I grabbed a pen and circled February 16th, my hand pressing down harder and harder, the lines of ink so erratic they finally covered the number. I never wanted to forget this date, but I wanted to erase it at the same time.
How could I live without you, I wondered. Literally, how could I live? Was it worth it to continue? Should I just jump out the window, say the Big Adios? How could I function without the person who gave me life and would always give me strength?
You were, after all, the person I talked to the most, the keeper of my secrets, the one who knew me better than I knew myself. You were the one that bought me all those Big Chief tablets and encouraged me to fill them with whatever was in my head. You were the one that bought me that first issue of The Shadow. You took me to The Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad, and listened to me talk about it all the way home, and allowed me to remain under its spell. You gave me not only The Catcher In The Rye but also Nine Stories, and you knew where that would lead.
And you were always there, whatever would befall me in my life, and you always listened and pointed the way. Whatever may have happened, I knew I could get out of it, because you would always be there, to give me a push, to say the right words, to make it better.
Then...you weren't there. I kept staring at the calender, at the window, the ground so far below. And the pictures on the wall, and the clock, and the bed, these surroundings that now seemed so meaningless. How would I make sense of all this now? Who would tell me everything was okay?
The moment passed, and the next one. They kept passing, until now: Four years have gone by. I miss you, but not so much, not anymore. Life, well, it really does go on, and there have been some wonderfully unexpected destinations. And the whole journey has been weird because it seems as though I've discovered a strength inside myself, a resiliency I've never known. Maybe your passing was the very thing I needed. In your very absence, you still point the way.