What would I have done besides stand there and cry?
Your wife and family were there; their grief has precedence.
She spoke without introducing herself. She was passionate and I recognized her from photos rotating through the slideshow all night. When she left the stage, I crossed the room to meet her.
“Are you Crystal?”
You’d described her to me in detail. My name received no flicker of recognition.
Your wife asked why I hadn’t brought my family. I couldn’t face the effort required to have them dress up and drive to Seattle. But also, I needed this moment for myself.
For myself . . . with support from Steph, who came because I asked her to and let me cry on her head as we stood to the side of the room. And my cousin, who offered to drive — he was more a part of your life than I had been in years.
I had one decent thing to say and I said it to your aunt because I thought she was your mother. Later when I spoke to your mother I reverted to my babbling teenage self. She received this silently until I excused myself and turned away. Then she said, “I’m glad you came.”
I think about you a lot. I dream about you sometimes and then I wake up in the middle of the night like now and I realize it doesn’t matter. I always thought we had an unspoken bond. When I learned you had been dead for a week before I found out, I was shocked. Shouldn’t I have felt it?
There are chapters with your name on them in the forever-unwritten story of my life. I’m afraid I was a footnote in yours. A moody high school girl who periodically turned up again as an adult, with an intensity for feelings and events of the past everyone else had outgrown.
The worst part, obviously, is that you’re gone.
Wondering if our relationship existed largely in my memories is a heartbreaking aftermath.