I wrote this in June 2009, soon after I found out my friend Andrew had passed away. This was, it should be noted, written during a time of deep grief for me. Part of this was me attempting the work of trying to mourn someone whom I loved deeply but with whom I had a troubled relationship. There is something in this that I keep pondering: How do you mourn the loss of someone whom you used to love but for whom your feelings are now more complicated than love? There he was, and I was busy having so many complicated feelings about him, and then he wasn't there any more.
I have been thinking about sharing these musings for a while, mostly because I still think about him all the time – almost daily. When I'm writing I think about Andrew, and when I do yoga, and when I see a movie I know he'd love, and often while I go through my day in the most normal way, there he is. And I think the experience of grief is as complicated and rich as anything else I discuss on here. So: here goes...
I spoke to Linda this afternoon and she was able to articulate some of what I have been thinking about Andrew. She is the first person who has said to me that he was a very difficult person. His misanthropy, though it has gone unremarked by many people on the internet, was perhaps Andrew's most defining characteristic. Andrew had such contempt for so many people. He let very few in, was downright hostile toward many, and was openly derisive about more than a couple people who had not wronged him in any way: harmless people who simply didn't understand his melancholy, his dedication – obsession, really – with his craft.
But, then, Andrew was impossible to understand for many people. He was terrified and mysterious and hateful. He was also beautiful and magical and amazing. I cannot seem to refer to him as lovable. That he most certainly was not. He seemed to actively resist being lovable, in fact, at every turn. There was so much hatred – so much hatred – that to love Andrew, to actively love him, demanded an act of will. I say that having loved him, known him incredibly well, having understood him.
He was not easy to love. Or perhaps I mean to say that he did not wish to be easy to love. And I will confess that it was often difficult. I often loved him in spite of himself, often against his will, even. He was so filled with anger, resentment and hate, not least of which he directed toward himself. But I loved him still, for the better part of six full years. For me, the sun rose and set with Andrew, and even now, as recently as February when we last spoke, he had the ability to get under my skin (he knew this, of course). The traces of my love for him lay ignored by me but always, at any moment, ready to reawaken.
I have more memories than I know what to do with. My heart is so ambivalent about him. Having loved him, of course, I also had to kill him, to attempt to cut him out of my heart in order to move on from him, to let the love of someone else in. And so many of my memories of Andy are laced with pain, like a vein of gold running through a mineral.
There is wreckage. What does his absence leave us with? No, I should stick with myself. I do not actually understand anyone else's experience of Andrew: only my own, and even that...
He told me many lies; we were frequently dishonest with one another, so that there was much that he intended to hide. I saw much of it anyway, but I offer this as evidence of an occasional lack of trust. He did not always feel safe, even with me, and perhaps he was correct not to. I wanted – for many years anyway – something he refused to give me. I spent so long cutting him out of my heart. There is a lot of bitterness left. Much of what I remember is darkness, grief.
And there is only emptiness when I consider Andrew and the uselessness of his death. He lived a life filled with suffering. Even he, I would wager, did not understand its source. He certainly could not envision its endpoint. Well... I guess he did, though it is not, perhaps, the end any of us would have chosen for him. So sad. He was the saddest person I ever met. The saddest. No contest. But how I loved him! For me, that love remains. It no longer feels like it is a part of me – I can only speak of it as something I no longer feel as love. But I can remember feeling it. I remember what I was like while I was feeling it, and I remember precisely what it felt like. Its traces remain in my body.
He was twenty-eight years old. And he loved me. And I loved him. And now he has died.