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  • It's been four weeks since my best friend of fifteen years died.

    Four weeks and a day ago, Jason and I were laughing and joking, sweating a little after a morning hot yoga class. He was an unusually handsome man, but thankfully, also unusually modest. After the yoga class the teacher eyed him appreciatively and I secretly rolled my eyes at him. He not-so-secretly stuck his tongue out at me.

    The day after the yoga class he called me in the morning, complaining he wasn't feeling well. I was just getting my Starbucks coffee and muffin, and it was loud in there. All I heard was the word "hospital" and I quickly but with some confusion agreed to pick him up. Twenty minutes later, I was outside his apartment building. When he got in the car, he eyed my Starbucks breakfast wryly. "I ordered it before you called me! I swear!" I laughed. "I would never put Starbucks before taking you to the hospital.... probably..."

    When we got to the hospital, he listed his symptoms: achey neck, nausea, general blahs. They did some tests. I hung out beside his bed, reading my emails on my phone, making light banter.

    I had no idea that in hours he would be dead.

    But, he was. The virus took him over quickly, painfully. It attacked his brain. I held his hand and coached him on breathing. The doctors fluttered ineffectually. I reminded him of the yoga breath. Together we breathed, though he could no longer speak from the pain. I joked that it was like reverse Lamaze up in here. He didn't laugh. We breathed.

    Hours later. The doctor's words will be forever imprinted on my brain: "His complications were incompatibile with the continuation of life." I love words. I love language. I stared this doctor in the eye piercingly, pinning him like a butterfly under a needle, daring him to throw more words at me. No, he couldn't use them to hide. I would understand them all. No, he would need to look at me. He began to cry. Strangely, I didn't.

    Jason is gone now. I learned that sometimes healthy people just die. I never really knew that before.

    Two weeks before Jason died, I'd been seeing interesting golden light - just for a few moments, glimmering through trees - several times a day. It was unusual enough that I wondered to myself about it. Wondered if it meant something good was going to happen. Or if I was imagining it. Or if it was the changing seasons causing new light.

    I told my mom about the light yesterday and she nearly choked on her drink. "Forerunners."


    "You saw forerunners," she repeated.

    "What are forerunners?"

    "It's folklore. They say you see them before someone important dies. Your grandmother saw them. When her dad died she cried over his body sobbing, 'I saw the forerunner on the hill last week!' They're just as you described - golden light, usually a glimmer through trees. I've seen them too."

    Jason didn't believe in energy. The mere mention of a "forerunner" would have sent his eyebrows sky high. But I believe in a lot of things now. I believe that sometimes a glimmer of light on a tree is the most certain thing there is.

    I believe in breath.

    And I believe in building relationships so strong that if you ever do find yourself standing, dazed, destroyed, in a hospital room, you do not need to tell the other person how much you love them.
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