I haven’t felt compelled to write in months – heck, 8 months to be exact! I’m not sure why – just uninspired I guess. :shrug emoji:
I wish I was here because I had some exciting thing to share; instead I need to simply unload thoughts from my brain and the only way I can best do that is with writing. I was going to use the word catharticism but I’m honestly not sure it’s correct and I’d hate to be one of those bloggers who uses a fancy word just to show off. Authenticity is key.
Two Mondays ago I was at the office walking from the restroom back to my desk (which for reference is like, the trail of tears – why we work in a huge converted warehouse with inconveniently located bathrooms is something I often ponder). On my way back I pass my brother’s desk and he’s white as a ghost standing waiting for me. He tries to get me to sit down….but I thought he was being fake dramatic and was pranking me so I refused. I wish I had sat down. Over the weekend one of my oldest friends had taken his life. I burst into tears. I could not fathom the words he was saying. Stephen. was. dead. No. Just no.
Standing there ugly crying (because I am not one of those people where a singe, perfect tear rolls down my cheek….no, no I FULL BODY sob and turn beet red) and I was flooded with every awesome memory I had of him.
Stephen I met met in 1998 at Newbury Comics in Burlington. I was 16 going on 17 and I was a “CH” – Christmas Help – that ended up getting a part-time teenage dream job after the season ended. I was chatty and sparkly and had pink streaks in my hair and wore homemade bell bottoms and glitter Doc Martens. Stephen had long black hair and a long black beard and wore black every day. I was fairly certain he hated me – until one day he didn’t. He introduced me to so many of the bands i STILL love today – Old 97’s, The Sheila Divine, The Smiths. He teased me about my shit taste in music or nail polish (although he appreciated that I hated boy bands, haha). We were unlikely friends.
He left the store and I left and moved on to a different job. We reconnected on social media – first MySpace then Facebook and we often commented on each other’s lives. He read my blog and would leave incredibly thoughtful commentary. We shared opinions on Top Chef or restaurants we tried or recipes that seemed needlessly complex but tasted pretty amazing. It was an easy, enjoyable friendship that is so rare these days.
When someone leaves the earth you often remember their favorite things or memories you shared and while I have those, I’m also flooded with a barrage of the poignant things he’s said to me over the years.
Like the time I sold my eye sparkle business and announced on Facebook I would not longer be “Samantha who sells sparkles” and he replied that I would always be “Samantha who sparkles”. ❤
Or the time he messaged to remind me that I got him a cake and card when he left Newbury (something I honestly did not remember but sounds very *Sam!) and all these years later he still thinks about it and smiles. I like to think of myself as someone that leaves thing better than I found them and I know Stephen shared that sentiment in that he left everyone and everything he found better them.
Or the time he messaged me out of the blue to tell me he had just watched “High Fidelity” (one of my favorite 90’s movies!) and I reminded him of Laura with this quote: “She’s loyal and honest, and she doesn’t even take it out on people when she’s having a bad day. That’s character.”. Someone telling you that you have character is the kind of thing that never leaves you.
In 2018 I stood up in front of 500 of my coworkers and gave a Ted-style talk entitled “How Project Management Saved my Life” all about my journey to lose 250 pounds – Stephen wished me luck beforehand and he was the only person I shared the recording with afterwards. He told me it brought him to tears, which brings ME to tears to think about.
Recently we texted about a guy I had feelings for that I just couldn’t figure out where I stood with and his response was simple but once again so poignant – “If you have to wonder where you stand with someone, it’s time to walk”. Truth.
I will never understand the decision he made – or the depths of his depression but I will forever miss him and think of him so fondly when I watch “High Fidelity” or bake chocolate chips cookies or listen Old 97’s. Especially “Lonely Holiday” – his favorite song from the album “Fight Songs”.
“It was a lonely holiday.
I was alone; you were away
In Fayetteville, or in another state.
There’s so many towns I hate.
When you leave me,
Breaks me like a bone;
But it’s never as bad
As when you come home.
I’ve thought so much about suicide,
Parts of me have already died.”