It’s been twenty years, it’ll be twenty one in October this year, that you’ve been gone. It seems shocking to me that it’s already been that long. I still have the last letter that you sent me, and the last Christmas gift you gave me. My friend told me that the cover is creepy, but I find beautiful; then again I have always been the one to find beauty in places that few dare to look.
I understand that your demons were stronger than whatever tethered you here, but I wish you could’ve stayed. If you held on a little longer, you may have been able to sell some of your artwork online as I know painting full-time was your dream.
You always encouraged me to follow my dreams, and I am doing just that. Although, my job sometimes makes that difficult because it’s a thankless thing that I have to do to pay the bills. If I could write all day long, I’d be happier. But for now, I have to do what I have to in order to make ends meet.
I know you’d understand that.
I never knew how badly you were suffering, and sometimes I feel guilty. I think maybe if I wrote you just one more letter or maybe called you on the phone or something that maybe you wouldn’t have felt so alone in this world. Then maybe you would’ve known that you were loved.
I remember your funeral. It was a rainy day where I was scolded by one of my cousins for crying too much because we didn’t really know you. It boiled my blood because I actually made the effort to talk to you, sometimes, even if it wasn’t often enough. He may not have written you letters, but I did.
Besides everyone is allowed to grieve as they need to.
Your death did teach me some things though: those that we love sometimes are suffering battles we’ll never know about, I didn’t really want to die or the permanence that came with death – I just wanted the pain and suffering inside of me to stop because I could not stop myself from being bullied and excluded from things just because I wished people were nicer, and that better days come. Sometimes it takes weeks, months, and even years. But better days do come.
I hope that wherever you are now, that you are free. That you feel better. That you were able to find the peace that you couldn’t find on this Earth.
I miss you, and I love you. I thought maybe one day you could teach me to paint, but perhaps the universe needed you to paint new galaxies and sunsets into view.
Life is hard, but it harder still, when you know there are people that should be sitting at your table but cannot.
At least, you didn’t have to deal with the craziness that is this pandemic. Or the aftermath a year later where people think simply because they’re bored, it’s over.
The sun is pouring through my window, and I am happy in this moment. It really is the little things. I wish you could’ve experienced more little things that were able to make you smile. I wish that your trauma and your pain didn’t wound you to the point where living wasn’t an option. I know nothing I can say or do will bring you back, and I know it’s not my fault that you’re gone; but I can’t stop blaming myself sometimes. I really miss you. I wish you could’ve stayed.
Linda M. Crate’s poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has seven published chapbooks A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press – June 2013), Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon – January 2014), If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016), My Wings Were Made to Fly (Flutter Press, September 2017), splintered with terror (Scars Publications, January 2018), More Than Bone Music (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, March 2019), and the samurai (Yellow Arrowing Publishing, October 2020), and two micro-chapbooks Heaven Instead (Origami Poems Project, May 2018) and moon mother (Origami Poems Project, March 2020). She is also the author of the novel Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Books, June 2018). She also has three full-length poetry collections, the latest being Mythology of My Bones (Cyberwit, August 2020).