Every time I check my email, there’s a chat greeting me from 2014. It’s you, asking me, “You doin’ OK still?” It will never go away, and that fact often makes me happy, because there’s something about it that gives me comfort. It’s as if, even though you took yourself from me and the million other people who loved you because of the darkness that clouded you, you’re still checking in to make sure I’m the one who is getting by.
The truth is, sometimes I’m doing great. But other times? Well, you know me. We creative types like to sulk in our misery, and you can’t help but come to mind regularly as I struggle with my own demons. I think often about how you’d refer to me as the “saddest happy girl you ever knew” and I wish we could talk.
I think about you as I write — because though I’ve been writing more, it’s still not nearly enough, and not a day goes by that I wish we could work through an idea together.
I’ve wanted to share with you how down I’ve been regarding roller derby — and about how I’ve accepted that a fifth concussion is forcing me to end my derby career. I wish I could tell you straight to your face how I should have listened to you two years ago when you told me to take a break. In my head, I imagine I would eventually admit I was too stubborn to listen to you at the time and you would just laugh and hug me and say, “Oh Wretchie,” and listen to me cry as I mourn all things derby.
I’ve wanted to talk to you about how wonderful Medusa is. Her strength through losing you has been incredible. She’s keeping your memory alive for all of us, and she has big plans in store for you once the pain we all feel has dulled — as if it ever will. She was gracious enough to bring to WFTDA Champs last year the Bat Wing jar I had given you as a souvenier from the Poe museum. She filled it with your cologne, which made me sob when I briefly opened it to see if it really smelled like you. (It did.) I haven’t opened it since, but am grateful she thought to do that so my senses could be reminded of you, too. I have no idea what else she’s done for others, yet I’m so amazed at how she keeps us all in mind in the midst of her own sorrow.
I’ve wanted to tell you about my highs. My lows. And to hear about yours. I’ve wanted to see you obsess over your latest poem. To hear about how you stayed up for two days straight writing your book. To see for myself how incredible the words are, even as they were driving you mad.
I’ve wanted to tell you about the dreams I’ve had about you — the one I had on the day you died where I tried to hold on to you but you went away anyway. How I see bats every day — on shirts, in the sky, spelled out on signs, and how they always make me feel like you’re around.
And I’ve wanted to scream at you and tell you how cruel and selfish you were to leave us all to process all of this. I can’t even tell you how many of us have sifted through emails and voicemails and text messages and conversations, wondering what we could have done. Wishing we had seen the signs. Wondering if we could have changed your ending.
I’ve realized there are things you’ll never know of me, even though you were often my biggest cheerleader. You’ll never find out if I finally publish a book. You’ll never see me become a mother. You’ll never know my life outside of derby. Quite frankly, you’ll never even know if you get published.
I know I’m not alone. You’ll have other friends continuing their lives — marriages and families and success stories and heartaches — and you won’t be there for any of it. And that’s what is so hard about all of this. I have a really hard time not hating you for all of this.
But I can’t hate you. I miss you too much. And it’s why your message in G-chat will never go away. I need it there to help me feel like you’re still here. Somewhere.
You are missed more than you could ever have realized.