It had been two weeks since my friend had died. Two weeks since I had been sitting in my cubicle at work when I'd received the phone call.
"Hey Wes," he said on the other end of the phone. "Patrick died. He just....died."
That's basically what had happened. Patrick, mid conversation, just dropped. There was no dramatic pause to indicate anything was out of the ordinary. No ominous music played in the background. One minute he was saying he wasn't going to make the move from North Carolina to Maryland and the next he was, well....
I was shocked. The air that I breathed became shallow and stale. My heart continued to thump, only it increased. My brain searched for ways that the caller could be lying to me. A practical joke, maybe? The wrong Patrick, perhaps? This couldn't be my Patrick. The one who had bartered for a Child's Play Doll so he could send it to me in time for a birthday party. Not my Patrick, with his hazel eyes and his crooked smile, that would accept my random text messages and would reply with the most bizarre responses.
Hey Patty.... Ya ever wonder if maybe the reason I see shadows everywhere is because I'm really insane?
Nah Wes....It's like that saying about women with big feet. Ya'll just have big egos....
Not him. Not the guy I could sit and tell the story of the man who decided to shoot his wife to add spark back in his married to. Not my Patrick who understood with perfect clarity that my mind works on the oddest levels and that my attention span rivals that of a three year old.
No, that man in Maryland, the one that they were unsuccessfully able to administer CPR to was a different Patrick. My Patrick was traveling back to North Carolina. My Patrick, all 6 feet of him, had just asked me to marry him the night before.
"Come on Wes," he laughed. "No one understands you like I do."
But, it was my Patrick. My Patrick that I never told anyone about because I wanted to keep him to myself. I never wanted to share him with anyone. He was my special person. My person that had been there when the worst thing that could ever happen to a woman had, indeed, happened to me. He was my safety net. The one who listened when I was too tired to be angry about anything. The one who sat, nodding enthusiastically, when I discussed my story ideas. His reassurance was what I reached for when I felt too insecure to be in my own skin.
And now he's dead.
That was two weeks ago. Actually, it will be three weeks tomorrow. But, last week, it was two weeks ago. Last week it had been two weeks to the day when I contacted the Holy Grail about dinner. The Holy Grail had said yes, and I realized (a day later) that it might not be a wise decision to ask the last guy that broke your heart out when you are grieving over the death of a close friend.
But, if I were the type to make wise decisions, I would never have any subject material for this blog.
So, this past Thursday I met the Holy Grail for dinner. It was a nice restaurant in a nice part of town. The Grail didn't know what was going on in my life. My contact to him had been out of the blue. We had not spoken, except for the occasional random text, in months. So, after we had ordered, I was not the least bit surprised when he asked me what was going on.
And I was nothing but truthful in my explanation. "See, I'm using you. Just using you. My friend died recently. And it, well...it sucks. I need what he gave me. I need that one person that I don't have to be anything other than me with. I need someone who knows that I have all kinds of quirks and accepts and understands why I have them. I need that accepting person to allow me to lay my head on their shoulder. I need to be listened to. I need to ramble. My attention span is all over the place and I don't want to have to control it. I need the comfortable silences. I don't want to have to perform. I don't want to have to make someone laugh or be witty or carry on an analytical conversation. I just need a couple of hours where I am me. That's it."
The Holy Grail understood. Just as I knew he would. For all our ups and downs, he does understand me. He gets me. So, the rest of the night was spent in casual conversation. Light hearted topics. Music. Daily routines. Kid stuff. It wasn't until the dinner was over that Patrick was even brought up again.
"It's tough when someone so young dies," The Grail said. "It leaves us with a lot of anger and fear."
Yes," I replied. "But, that's not the part I am dealing with. I'm dealing with the isolation. I kept him to myself. He was my person that I hid from everyone else. I discussed my heart, imagination, and everything else in between with him. And I kept him to myself so much, he remained so hidden, that I have no one to grieve with me. I am isolated now. And that is what sucks the most."
Again, he nodded. He understood, just like I knew he would. And as I drove home from my much needed dinner, I couldn't help think about how ironic my night had been. How, in my grief over my friend, my soul mate, I had reached out to the one man that has broken my heart like no other. Funny. I could have had the same conversation with anyone. But, I know it would not have had the same comforting affect that the talk with The Holy Grail had. It just goes to show you how funny the heart can be.