Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Un-Holiday Letter ...

Most years, I write a letter to include with the holiday cards I send out to family and friends.

This year, I didn't.

Most years, letters pour themselves onto the page, with nary a nudge from me.

This year, I sat down to write out the cards and thought, "Oh. I haven't written a letter."

So I pulled out the past pages from my desktop calendar, put them in order, flipped through the months, and thought, "I can't spin a holiday letter out of this."

Which is to say, this has not been a good year.

There have been moments of goodness, of course. Everyone in my family celebrated another birthday. I finished the 3-Day for the sixth time. Seeing Springsteen perform "Born to Run" from the floor of the United Center was one for the record books.

But, generally speaking, this year was not kind.

Some have inquired as to the dearth of a letter. I've explained that this was simply not a year to commemorate in a holiday card.

If I were to write one and be honest about the year's events, it would read something like this post:

I arrived in January jobless. But not too concerned. (I have a really good resume.)

And then, as regular readers well know, at the beginning of February, I lost my dear friend Dave.

We all lost him, of course, his mother and father and brother and grandmother and aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews and his legion of friends. I certainly don't mean to intone that my experience was more substantial than theirs.

But L.A. Dave, as he was known by me, was part of my everyday. If we weren't on the phone together, hashing out headlines or plotting our next steps, we were trading e-mails. Or comments on Facebook. Or Twittering tweets.

We were each other's partner in procrastination. Whenever one of us faced something that needed to be done but we didn't quite have the get-up-and-go to get it going, we'd call the other and while away some time.

He was always an entertaining companion who kept me company whilst I puttered around the house. If I was standing at the stove or doing dishes or pulling weeds, odds are that Dave was with me on the phone.

There are still moments when I think about how much I'd like to give him a call. For just an instant, I forget that he's gone, because dialing his number was almost an involuntary extension of so many things I do.

If only.

In March, the man I was dating briefly – named David; again, regular readers will know about the preponderance of Davids and Daves in my life – decided that he didn't want to be in a day-to-day relationship. Perhaps he knew that all along and just forgot to let me in on that fact. Or perhaps he didn't know until he knew.

So that ended. Which was sad in its way, but I came to understand that he was meant to be in my life to help me through the immediate loss of Dave. When it came to dealing with the delayed emotions, I was to be on my own. But in the short term, he provided comfort.

College Boyfriend David, whom I met when I was 19 and who has been a distant fixture in my life ever since, returned in a more-regular way as the year wore on, but I do believe, now, that our relationship has run its course and that I won't be hearing from him again. Which is both bittersweet and for the best. There is a sense of safety in those you've known and loved, and yet often, they are, more than anything, tethers to another time. The love remains, of course, forever a part of you, but those who walk with you on life's path in the future are not always those who have walked with you in the past.

And there is yet another man named Dave who was once a part of my life, as well. He had a true talent for making me laugh even in the darkest of days.

And so it was the last time we spoke. Though the conversation started with my revealing the shocking news of L.A. Dave's death, by the time we hung up, he had me laughing so hard I was nearly unable to breathe.

They're interesting, aren't they, those broad emotional swings in the midst of grief? Profound sadness one moment, near-elation the next. Until the pendulum swings back again. As it always does.

I did not reach out to anyone in those weeks following L.A. Dave's death. I was not only grieving but also working on a book for his family, a collection of remembrances from his vast pack of friends. What I thought would be a brief booklet of eight or ten pages turned into a 63-page tome, four times over.

I found it odd that in that time, especially, when I needed my friends around me more than ever, that Dave did not call.

And he has not called since. Nor texted. Nor written. Nor appeared. And so I decided that I should follow his lead. If he was not in touch with me, I thought it best that I not be in touch with him.

Another Dave, then, done.

As with College Boyfriend David, our friendship had run its course, too, apparently. I just wasn't aware of that at the time.

And so my David/Dave roster is down by four this year. A lot of loss.

And another man, not named David or Dave, left me rather stunned this summer with his exquisitely asinine behavior.

And too many friends dealt with too much sadness themselves. My heart goes out to all of them, what I have of it to give.

The job picture has yet to come into focus. But I persevere and trust that the right opportunity will arrive.

I never wish to hasten the passage of time. Every day is too precious.

But I will be grateful to bid farewell to 2009. For me and for too many of those I love, it has been a year of almost too much to bear.

Surely, more happiness awaits in the new year.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home