TD4 last night, and he was kind enough to visit me in my dreams. His memory was stirred up by a Flickr thread about grief with a friend who’s recently lost a dear old dog who she’s grieving hard. I realized then that TD4’s birthday is today; realized that it’s the second one he’s missed. Realized, again, that I miss him.
The dream was tactile and musical, the way they frequently are. The cold metal edges of the m’bira under my fingertips; the warmth of his body near mine, cross-legged the pair of us, hands on our instruments; making music with the keys and with our laughter.
We had an awkward moment when I remembered that he was dead, and I started to mention this to him. He cocked his head towards me, like he did when he was listening, and the words caught in my throat. He gave me a forgiving look, like he knew what I was going to say and rather I wouldn’t; like it would hurt his feelings if I did. So we carried on and played some more; he taught me a few chords; we repeated them endlessly.
(Our lessons were always sporadic -- they happened when he passed through town for one thing or another, and we'd usually open with my playing for him what he taught me the last time. One time he said: “I didn’t teach you that” as I played for him the tune I remembered him teaching me; I caught myself, apologized -- figured I must have remembered it wrong, been practicing it wrong, and asked him to show me how to do it right; he said “No -- you teach me -- I like that. That’s good.”)
I’m reminded by his visit of what I’ve learned to be true about grief: when it first occurs it concentrates into every pore of right now, and then as time passes it disperses, dilutes across the hours, the days, the years.
It's easy to mistake not missing someone as often for not missing someone as much. But in truth it's about density, not intensity.
That void of missing someone is like those little nurdles of plastic that never quite manage to break apart into nothingness, because when you stumble across a memory of the one who went missing, the ache and emptiness rears up true and raw and just as immediate as it did when you first tried to wrestle the news out of this now and into that then when it wasn’t true, couldn’t be true, and your world was still whole.
That then when he sat beside you and played.