Since 2009 the last few days of August have always brought me, without fail, some kind of spiritual and emotional reconditioning. It’s been three years since Matthew passed away, and every year since then, around this time, I take to my laptop to make something of it. In a few spare moments at work today I found myself looking back at what I managed to get down in 2010, 2011. It wasn’t helpful. Luckily I had a run scheduled for tonight, so I managed to shake it off while listening to Mark Ronson.
Three years ago I sat in a movie theater watching District 9. I put my phone on silent because I am always a good patron. By the time the movie was finished, he was gone. I had eight missed calls to show for it.
I last saw him at 7pm the night before. Visiting hours ended at 8pm. I think I left at 20 to. At that time there wasn’t any doubt that he would be fine, that I didn’t need to make the hour and a half commute the next day. Surgery went well. Everything was fine. I could take the night off, go see a movie.
His funeral—actually, it was only a memorial because his sister didn’t have enough money for a casket, a plot, embalming, etc., only cremation—was a few days later in Milwaukee. I didn’t have much money either, so I sold some clothes to Crossroads Trading Company, some books to the campus bookstore and did two campus studies so I had enough for train fare to get there. On that train ride I listened to “Duet” by Rachael Yamagata and Ray Lamontagne over and over again. In my mind there were still two people, someone to sing to.
Over the past three years I’ve written about him here and there; the necklace he gave me before he was admitted to the hospital eventually broke while I was dancing at a club (my sweat had eaten through the cheap cord). He got defamed: a mutual friend made accusations against him that threatened my memory of him.
"All saints have a past, and all sinners have a future." I quoted Oscar Wilde.
Tonight, I feel like my sin is that I’m starting to forget. I think I’m ready to let go. Not just of him, but also the guilt. I don’t have a tombstone to visit. His necklace is broken. No one I talk to today has ever met him; few know he existed. I’ve been wanting to unfriend him on Facebook (he still has 78 friends: all beautiful gay men. Do they even know he died?). There’s no one to sing to, there’s no duet. I will never truly forget, but I no longer want anger marked on my heart. Or guilt. Or questioning. And if this is truly a sin, as it feels deep down, then yes, I’m ready for my future.