Five Years.

It’s been three years since my last post here. But, it’s also been five years since my friend Jimi died, which is what is prompting me to write this. Something needs to be done to mark this day on the calendar, somehow. Writing things here about Jimi was so pivotal and important to my grieving process that it seems like a great day to start up again.

I cannot believe it’s been five years already. That sounds so long, and the more I say it, the crazier it sounds. 1,825 times the sun has risen and set that he wasn’t here to see it. A few of our mutual friends have also died. Babies have been born, so many babies!

And my baby..well. He’s no baby any more.

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Xavier James will be turning 5 in a few months. Man, this child is a character. He’s so smart and funny and sweet. Every day he amazes me. When he was born, I was deep into my grief and couldn’t see a way out, but he brought me back from the dead. Now, every time he pushes his boundaries or talks back to me or runs a little too far ahead..”XAVIER JAMES!”

And I’m reminded of my friend with the mellow laugh and the sunny smile. I’m still so proud that we named him this, because I never want to forget the sound of that laugh.

But sometimes I have to think for a second before I can recall it. Sometimes I have to search the recesses of my mind to remember what that song was that we missed, the time he got pissed at me for making us late to the Phish show because I had attempted to mix myself a rum and coke while driving and spilled it all over myself. (I don’t condone this behavior at all. At all. I was young and stupid and this was a waste of perfectly good rum). (Also, has there ever been a more cliche “me” phrase than “I was late to the Phish show because I spilled rum on myself”?) Sometimes I have to REALLY think about where that inside joke even originated, and wonder why I even still tell it because there’s literally no one around who would get it.

But they’re not gone yet, and I am really, really glad that I have this blog to look back on. When I read my posts from 6 months out, 1 year out, it’s easy to track the progression. So I want to continue in that effort at least.

Jimi’s mom and I keep in touch. His family is probably (hopefully?) going to read and enjoy this blog. When I’m in town I make it a point to find them and I consider them my family. We’re connected in our loss and we have each other to help patch the hole he left.

As for me. Well, my life looks pretty different than it did three years ago. I am divorced. I won’t go into too much detail about what happened, it’s the same story as everyone else, and in a nutshell, we just couldn’t make it work. So, in April 2014, I moved out, and took my mom, my dog, my cat, and Xavier with me. He lives with me, and sees his father every Sunday, and every other Saturday night. Single motherhood has been an adventure. When I first moved out, I had to google “How to Plunge a Toliet” because..well, because I did not know that, okay? I didn’t know how to plunge a toilet. But in my two years flying solo, not only can I plunge..oh baby. I have put together furniture. I have built THREE beds. I’ve hung shelves, shoveled more snow than I ever dreamed possible, I’ve learned to cook, make martinis and balance a budget. I have a tiny savings account with actual money in it. My car is MINE, and it’s insured, and I even get my oil changed on time. I even have a boyfriend, and yes, he’s aware of that, and has not filed a restraining order. Yet.  I definitely gained like..all of the weight back, but let’s not discuss that right now.

I’m still grooming dogs, but only part time. Last fall I took a leap and enrolled in community college. I’m presently majoring in Wildlife Conservation & Biology, buuut Biotechnology is singing me a pretty sweet siren song right now. I’m deciding. School is crazy. I’m surrounded by 18-22 year olds. When I was in school last, email was barely even a thing, so adjusting to the new ways of doing things has been a challenge. Conversely, some things are so much easier than they used to be! I’m involved with the Gender Equity Initiative at school, which is pretty cool. We do things to raise awareness for issues like Domestic Violence, Sex Education, LBGQT issues and all kinds of other things that stroke my activism boner.

I don’t mean to make this all about me, because this post really is about Jimi and that process. If it weren’t for him, and what happened, I probably would not have had the stark, glaring, proof that life is too goddamned short. It’s too goddamned short to stay in a marriage that doesn’t work. It’s too goddamned short to NOT go back to school and chase those dreams. And it made me realize that I CAN survive. I can survive the worst pain I’ve ever felt, and still function. Maybe not always function well, but I can function. I can pull up my big girl panties and get shit done, even when I’m really sad. I’ll be alright.

What I can’t stress enough, is that Jimi did teach me some very important things about what friendship is supposed to look like. There were many times over the course of our years that I acted like an asshole. I was irresponsible, selfish, arrogant, reckless, and really..not always a very good friend.  And that man showed me that brutal honesty and empathy were not mutually exclusive. He would tell me when I was showing my ass, to my face, and then defend my honor to everyone else.  He was better than I deserved, and it’s one of my greatest regrets that I’ll never have the chance to tell him that.

One of our last conversations has been bouncing around in my  head lately. We were discussing unfinished business, and the weight of carrying it around with you. I had had a falling out with our closest mutual friend, and it was weighing heavily on my mind, but I was too stubborn and too hurt to even know how to begin to fix it. He told me “You’re making this harder than it has to be. Just tell her what you just told me. Talk to HER, stop talking to everyone else.”  And do you know when I finally actually apologized to her?

Yesterday.

But more importantly, during that conversation he told me he had no unfinished business. None. Everything he had needed said had been said. The people he loved knew he loved them, and that was all he had to worry about.

Today, my old friend Dave,  that I’d fallen out of touch with messaged me to tell me a story about Jimi and it made me smile so much, so I want to share that with you. I love getting these little pieces of him that I never saw, because he was a multifaceted, complex individual that very rarely showed his entire hand. Mind you, I haven’t seen Dave in probably 15 years? I can’t even remember them ever meeting, but obviously it had happened.

These are Dave’s words, not mine:

Your post answered a question I was thinking about recently. I didn’t know that jimmy had passed away. I truly am sorry to hear that, he was a good guy. He saw me in downtown normal one time and I got a ride home from him, he said his car was in rough shape. I knew exactly what was wrong and I offered to help him fix it because I knew how to complete a basic tune up. I never heard from him after that, so I assumed he fixed it. Point is, I was going to walk home to bloomington and he offered me a ride in a shitty car just because he remembered me from knowing you. I just thought I’d share that story with you.
Just because he remembered me from knowing you. Even though his car was acting up, even though they had only met maybe once? This story got me right in the feels because it made me realize that for all the scraps and pieces of him that I hold onto, after I left Illinois, he was just as happy to scoop up a little piece of me, even if it meant going out of his way to help an otherwise perfect stranger.
Also, the song was Loving Cup and it was pretty shitty that we missed it.
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