How do you love a dead person?

Christmas

For the living, the ways are endless. You can buy your mother an expensive designer bag now that you’ve finally reached your career goals and are no longer a child with a piggy bank budget.

You can propose to your girlfriend of five years, have your friends take a blow-by-blow video, and proclaim to the world that you’re finally marrying the girl of your dreams.

You can take your family to a trip outside the country to thank them for raising you and loving you.

You can visit your best friend when he or she is down, when she feels that there is nobody left on her side. You can be her shoulder to cry on.

You can write silly greeting cards and make scrapbooks for your friends as you reminisce the days when you were younger and crazier.

But what about someone who is dead and gone? What about someone you thought you’d have a lifetime with? Yes, I’m talking about that parent, grandparent, child, relative, partner, mentor, or old friend that you lost too soon but have never forgotten. The one you think about all the time, the one you talk to in prayers or in hushed tones when nobody is watching, the one you wish were still here, the one you pretend not to talk about often because people around you think you should just brush it off and let go.

Yes, him.

Yes, her.

All I have is a small steel surface—around a foot wide, enough to hold a few candles, a tiny photo frame, and a small vase of flowers. His name is etched on the glass cover. What is left of him rests in an urn next to his father’s.

I’ve arranged countless flowers there. I’ve lit and blown out so many candles. I’ve tidied up that spot so many times the janitor is probably thanking me for doing his job. I’ve shed an ocean of tears, have spoken to the walls and the moon, laughed to myself whenever I encountered something he would’ve found funny, and said a litany of words to a God who probably doesn’t like me very much.

My ways of showing and telling him I love him are now limited. I can no longer throw him a surprise birthday party and see his nonchalant reaction because he knew about the surprise the whole time. We can no longer listen to each other’s theories on why hip-hop’s baggy jeans have evolved into tighter carrot jeans. I can no longer search high and low for the best stylish shoes the fit his semi-flat feet.

I no longer have a friend who fully understands that my anxiety attacks are psychiatric and not dramatic. I’ve lost my favorite travel buddy, my better half, and one of the very few people who think I don’t need to straighten my hair to look beautiful.

I’ve turned to writing, sharing photos of him with friends, organizing get-togethers in his honor, and reminiscing with his loved ones. That and lots of flowers—a different color, arrangement or type every month.

But this isn’t how I imagined I’d love him for the rest of my life.

I was hoping for something similar to what many of you have, dear readers—a chance to grow old with the love of my life, a chance to struggle in society with someone who truly loves you, a chance to argue and pick more fights with your best friend all the way to the retirement home, a chance to laugh at weird jokes that only he and I understand, a chance to learn and explore life together…just a chance.

Then I realize I did have my chance. I took it. I embraced it. I made every moment count. We had it, but only for a short time. Was a short moment all I deserved?

In a few days I shall head back to that small spot in the mausoleum. A red flower, perhaps? It is Christmas, after all.

My ways of loving him have become limited and laced with pain, but my love for him no human or higher being can ever repress.

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