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  • Dear ___,

    It's 9:30 and I’m only on my first cup of coffee of the morning. That’s so very much unlike me, isn't it? Then again, you've been gone so long that I really don't know what parts of my life you'd recognize and which parts would be strange to you.

    What I do know is that I think of you at the oddest times. Like this morning, just before dawn, when my daughter was snuggling in my arms and staring up at me with eyes full of wonder, I remembered the time you and I went out to the lake late on a Saturday night.

    It was summer and one of those very rare instances when both of us had nothing to do at the same time. Maybe I called you or maybe you called me, but the result was that we were outside on a warm warm night and I was wearing -- I remember this so vividly -- a knitted tank top with a bathing suit underneath, a pair of soft, flannel shorts, and the summer's first pair of flip-flops. We sat in the kids' sandbox; I was in the swing and you sat in front of me, kneeling in the sand, close enough to lean forward and push my leg to get a bit -- just a small, languid bit -- of swing going but not so close that there would be any accidental touches. Maybe you wanted me to know that each time your fingers brushed my knee, you meant it. Maybe not.

    We talked about the girls you liked and the things you were doing and the way I didn't want to go to school but needed to get away. I think we had beer or perhaps it was wine coolers or, maybe, it was just Perrier. Whatever it was, I know that you had provided it, that you had pulled it out of the small red cooler you used to keep in your worse-for-wear truck for such occasions.

    You had the most gorgeous coloring possible -- dark hair, olive skin, and incredible misty-grey-green eyes surrounded by dark lashes that would have been much better utilized by a girl. I like to think I told you that, told you that you were really, really handsome and that you really, really were wasting your time where you were and that you really, really should try to leave here and go somewhere, anywhere else. I like to imagine I told you that you should just come to school with me. You were so smart, so talented, so sensitive when you allowed yourself to be, which was far more infrequently than it should have been.

    But the reality, I think, is that I just sat there in that swing being content to let you push me, gently, away from you because I knew it would be immediately followed by me coming right back toward you.

    Why do I remember you so frequently? When I miss you, it hurts brutally for a flash of a second, then there's just an ebb of pain and then, suddenly, you're gone again. Maybe it's because I think you and I would still be friends. And that you would tell me my daughter was the most beautiful thing you'd ever seen; the same words you had whispered to me, charged with gentle admiration instead of heavy want. And you'd be so happy for me and proud of me and I'm sure you'd probably still be giving me advice that I never listened to but kept close to my heart.

    Or maybe it's because, secretly, I think that if I would have stayed home, you would still be alive.



    //Image:: Conrad Liese Angel (photo by Michael Colbruno)//
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