How’s the afterlife? Seeing that you’re new there, you probably don’t have it all down just yet. But I bet you’ve got a good bead on things just the same. Of course, those of us you’ve left behind are stuck here first wondering why. Then accepting the inevitability of what has transpired and, finally, knowing that this is not some joke. That you are gone. That they’d seen pieces of this floating downstream for months. That they wish they’d said something, done something, been something in that final moment where persuasion might have actually been met with understanding. Where certainty still could crumble into something other than where we are now… But we didn’t. You did. That’s that.
I hope the trip was uneventful. (or at least uneventful in a negative way… I’m all for positive right now.)
I see all these people posting all this really great stuff about you on your wall and I tend to concur. There is nothing that prepared me for the news… and yet there is so much that did prepare me for it. I see messages we sent. Snail Mail I’ve yet to return favor. Your warnings written in understated clicks and paintings of light… Well, I have now opened my box of shimmery beautiful regret and I am floored by it. Your absence is deafening… Seriously, it roars in foreign tongues and stupors long since past and yet to be had. In fact, it’s been roaring at me for a week, yet I did nothing. I mentioned it in my journals. Spoke of it to Jas. Even made note of it in my over-cluttered mind. But I didn’t reach out. I kick myself for not saying anything. Something. But that was inevitable, too… I mean, your absence has been screaming at me since before you were self-silenced. Something had to give. I guess everything had to give, right?
I know that I was almost seduced by the roses and posies pasted on your wall. I almost delved deep into my admiration and bled all over it. (Yes, I used the term admiration. Look it up. It defines things pretty well.) But I didn’t. It all just seemed too public for someone who was herself, so public… yet not. Someone who padded herself with fuzzy, kitten-smelling barbed-wire, razor-sharp snails, OkCupid transcripts, and art photos while only publicly hinting at the state of all things Alex. We all know nothing I could put up there would be as good a tribute as what you’d posted yourself and I just don’t want to fuck that up. Besides, maybe it would mean something to know that I am writing about you on something that belongs to me. That I was spreading the gospel of Alex Steiner outside of the construct you had created.
A few weeks ago, you messaged me. You’d not really randomly message me in a very long time and I thought it was odd, but pleasant. I felt shone upon that you’d chosen me to help pass your time. You were, at the time, still recovering from that awful job that you hated. We talked about how horrible it was and how you tried to make it seem funny or fun, but that it wasn’t. You discussed how you come on so fierce and so strong, when inside you’re crumbling into a “little heap.” You were talking about how you’d stopped your medication and how that probably wasn’t the best idea, but that you were doing it anyway. You apologized for being a “lonely, borderline alcoholic” and drunkenly messaging me. I hate that the brief moment was pretty much our last real exchange. I hate that there has to be a last real exchange.
I still keep thinking this must be a joke. But the more I think, the more I know it isn’t. I mean, I had seen you pretty dark before, but there was an ostentatious quality about it. A commerciality if you will. Something bigger than the words, like you were playing to an arena, and your flair for the dramatic always let me know you were going to be ok… But that last time there wasn’t any of that. It was just you and as much as you apologized, I always liked you for you. No apologies needed. Whatsoever.
As the weeks went by, your updates were at times slightly more aggressive, yet also withdrawn. You seemed more insecure, publicly as well as privately. As the end came closer, your postings became more erratically timed until they were pretty much gone. I felt oddly suspicious. I told myself you were preparing to kill off this account. That I just hadn’t received an invite to the next one, if there was even going to be a next one. But I never thought…
No! That’s not true! I did think for a split second: “Has Alex hurt herself? Has she done what she hinted at?” I brushed it off, but I did think it. When you said to me “I’m going to be off of here for a while,” in the most sedate way you could, I thought “Why?” Now I suppose I know why. When Jay, the catalyst for our friendship, posted on your wall, I knew that those thoughts and feelings I’d had were now justified. As the hours went by, it became painfully clear: Alex had done exactly what I was afraid she had done… And I wasn’t so surprised. Hurt? Yes. Saddened? Definitely… But surprised? No…
I just wish your sails had filled with a different wind, taken a different path, and that I could write you this letter and know that you’d actually be there to read it.
So I guess I’ll just say: I miss you already, Alex. I miss you because you were a link to a part of me that had long since past, but that I cared deeply about, and because you were just so very singular in a world full of so much of exactly the same. I hope you find what you’re looking for out there. (I mean it.) You deserve only the best things. (I mean that, too.)
Safe travels, sweet friend,