In California the winters are green and the summers are brown, the opposite of where we come from. It took some getting used to, like you being gone has taken getting used to. The backwards seasons seem normal to me now, but nothing will ever make your absence from the world normal.
Back home the winter still holds on hard, while here out my window I can see palm trees and Japanese maples. A vine of night jasmine climbs the neighbor’s fence, the scent wafts in when I open a window to catch the breeze. In my garden a tree drips yellow trumpet flowers onto the ground and the neighbor’s summer crape myrtle is bursting with big red blossoms. The pink-hatted Anna’s hummingbirds zip here and there.
I’d like to say I’m doing fine and most days it’s mostly true. I cry too much, probably. I don’t know how to help that. I guess it will stop someday on its own. I no longer stay up all night staring out the window watching the moon drop out of sight, unable to find sleep. I no longer endlessly walk the streets of this city we came to with so much optimism, twenty two years ago. Our old place is empty, repainted and for sale; when I saw the sign, I broke down crying on the steps. So many tangible links to your presence here changing, fading, gone.
I used to announced my lack of sentimentality with a supercilious pride, and now karma is having the last laugh as I sit here typing wearing one of your ubiquitous old baseball hats. Last week I went to the mountains – another place we discovered together – and snowshoed out into the woods where there was no sound at all but my own breathing and I shouted your name, just wanting to hear it spoken aloud. Today I will listen to the music you gave me, the soundtrack of our twenties and thirties, and I will sing that song you always liked to hear me sing and I will feel gratitude for the time we had together and wish with all of my broken heart it could have been different for you.
Happy birthday, my dear. How you are missed. How you will always be missed.
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