It’s on rainy days like these that I often think about those who have left us. I've been thinking a lot about loss over the past few days, more than usual (and usual is sadly quite often). I'm usually a positive soul but I keep a lot of my feelings buried away, often deep and far away, something that I have been trying to work on over the past few decades, with some steps forward and a few back. It's easier to let loose when drunk, and as I don't drink anymore I find myself curling up around my feelings and keeping them inside, with the hope that if I remain positive those around me will stay happy. Writing everything out has always helped me make sense of everything, giving me a little more perspective.
Maybe our year anniversary of leaving NYC reminded me of those who had passed on? The recent deaths of artists that have been with me all of my life, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, George Michael? The frequent reminders that I'm not 20 anymore? The fact that I am again growing life inside of me, making me think more about death? I don't know. But I do know that some people leave us too early, and some leave us late enough for us to know that they had a good, long life, but still too early for us to accept it.
Facebook reminded me not to long ago that 4 years ago I was walking around under the hot sun in Jamaica, but all I could think about was how my good friend Mick died while I was there, on an icy road during the coldest week of the year in New York. I kind of lost it for a while after Mick died. I was already teetering forward on a thin pole, missing people and feeling like there were way too many unsaids in my heart, and I tried to blot them out with whiskey. Mick's death helped me push myself down a pit (and I know I wasn't the only one, he was very much beloved), and I couldn't understand why he wasn't coming back to leave the bar a mess for me or ask me for a Guinness with a drop of Chambord in it. While I was packing up our apartment in Queens I came across a list of songs he had started putting together for the best bar playlist ever that we had never finished making. I can't listen to the Stone Roses anymore without being pulled back violently to 200 Orchard, Mick and his bike in the corner, and me complaining about having had to bring up double the normal amount of ice buckets up because he hadn't bothered to the night before. I wish he were still here to meet the girls and make them playlists.
That was only 4 years ago. Already 4 years ago. And then my favorite hugger, the one who would saunter into the bar, shoulders pushed back, a pint of Stella and a shot of Jameson, Scotty Simon or Simon Scott, found out he had cancer and died not that long afterwards. Sometimes you don't realize the significance of certain gestures until they have gone... The simple "Give us an hug!" followed by a huge bear hug was one of the most heartwarming things, a moment of pure gratefulness and love passed between humans, food for the heart and brain. I hope Scotty knew that those hugs will never ever be forgotten. I think his embrace left a huge imprint on many a soul and he was taken away far too soon.
While I lay my thoughts out there it comes to my attention that like Mick and Scotty, George was also the glue between people, a person gifted with the talent to seamlessly bring people together, no matter their background or path. And no matter his own personal demons, George would always greet you with a smile and a story, and he never forgot who you were or where you had first met. George was the Lower East Side for me, the embodiment of a neighborhood that was slightly rough around the edges but contained a heart of gold and a highly articulate intelligence, a mix of street smarts and bookish learnings. George's death happened on my 37th birthday and came as a shock to me. He was supposed to live through everything and survive. We all are and were. We were strong, we were survivors. Especially George.
There was the recent reminder that I was in England 5 years ago to bury my beloved Nana, reading through the obituary that I wrote and read at her funeral, remembering exactly how I felt standing there, my hand on her tiny casket, my fear of public speaking overridden by my love for her. I wish she were here to make the girls her wonderful poached eggs and tell them the stories of her amazingly adventurous and tumultuous life. She was also the mother of my father, the one who couldn’t find the strength to continue, dark and mysterious, so smart, but so plagued by darkness that we watched him turn to ashes just after my 10th birthday. I know my fear of losing Cesar someday stems a lot from there, from watching love disappearing into a place that I don’t have access to. An irrational fear, one that I always keep in check, but one that won’t ever go away. We will live long lives together and meet our grandchildren one day, I know it in my heart, but you always worry. Nothing is written unless it has already happened.
We all have our losses. It makes me sad to think that my children will never have a grandfather, even though he’s around up there somewhere as I can often feel his presence. It makes me sad that I can’t pick up the phone as I used to as a teen and call an auntie who would listen to my teenage angst ramblings without judgment. It makes me sad to think that one day my own children will have to deal with loss of some sort and that I won’t be able to stop the pain that it will cause. And then it makes me sad to think about the families who are literally losing people every day, the families who are watching their children die in front of them, the people who risk their own livesto save others, every single day, and I realize that despite my own personal losses I am still a very, very lucky person. This is why, every single day, I choose love and will continue to teach my children that love is the future. This is why, every day I will try to reach out to those who are in pain, whether I know them or not, and hope that I can help in some way or another.