It happens every spring. It lingers in the waiting as March languidly swings its feet around April's corner. My chest becomes tight and salt crystalizes in my eyes - the threat of unfallen tears. But I do not cry. Not yet. Instead, I wait. It's an annual push and tug. A rhythmic reach and pull. What will this year bring?
It is the dance of loss - equal parts exquisite beauty and devastating pain.
No matter how many years pass, I will always be 19 in the spring. Young. Gullible. Both intrigued and intriguing. Straight-A student and dawn-chasing mess of excess. I will be free and then recoiled. I will be enlivened and yet completely dulled. You can both reach me and never touch me, for I will always be reaching backwards into the sepia glow of 2003.
Some years, the spring passes swiftly, as if allowing time to come up for air might sting too much, like the sharp pain in your ribs after an unanticipated sprint. The date is merely a calendar number and when I fall asleep that night I think of what it means to love and lose and I might shed a silent, unwilling tear. I might consider phoning a friend, until I remember that the friends are gone, no longer knitted together through loss but separated by distance my own choosing and beyond repair. I might wonder what you are doing in some state far away, and if you are missing the same person that I miss tonight. Then, the fan will lull me to sleep and I will have a dreamless fit of a night, thankfully awakening before the alarm.
Some years I will be the last to leave work and the first to arrive as the calendar turns another page.
Other years I will carry the grief like a flag on death's mountain and my raw heart will seek out quotes on death and loss and I will howl to the moon, my voice wretched and tired from the wine. I will sob by my pool and curse the stars and fall into a sleep so deep and meaningless that I won't get up for days. Death's lurking will pull me so deeply into myself that I can feel the vacancy protruding from my eyes, but I can't will my body to move. My arms are limp and my mind is stale. The weeks will pass and I will do life begrudgingly. I will begrudge that we are still alive when others are gone.
The inescapable loss. My grief, the one last testimonial of love. The lurking pain that I know.