01 March 2006

For John

John died in July 2005.
Twenty years ago, he and I were briefly lovers. It's been eighteen years since I saw him last.

I received an email from an old acquaintance a few days ago about an unrelated matter. In it he mentioned John's passing. This person didn't know how close John and I once were. He also assumed I'd already heard the news, but I've been out of touch with most of the old university crowd and hadn't heard.

John was not my "boyfriend". We just spent time together for a while. We talked, we touched, we slept side by side. We never "broke up". We just stayed friends.
He was a quietly funny guy with a mystical cool quality. He was a musician and had very beautiful hands. He was the most observant, yet non-judgmental person, I've ever met. Wherever he was, he was in the moment. He was also the most attentive kisser a girl could hope to be kissed by.

Twice, after we were no longer romantically involved, when I was in major crisis, John was the person who helped me. He dropped what he was doing to take care of me. His voice was deeply soothing and he would prattle on about nothing in particular, dropping in occasional pearls, and I would feel better. Once, after not sleeping for three nights, I went to him hallucinating and hysterical. He took me for a drive and talked to me, smiling the whole time. I told him things that night, I have never told anybody and it was all ok. He even made me laugh at myself and at the world. He dropped me at my apartment, kissed me goodnight, and I went in and slept.

The last time I saw him, he gave me a going-away gift. A personal item of his that he remembered me admiring two years before. I was unbelievably touched.

My acquaintance tells me John was diagnosed with leukemia last January. Apparently he was responding well to treatment and improving by June, but took a downturn and died in July.
I've been stunned and tearful since hearing the news. I don't know what to do with this grief. Had I known of his illness, I would have gone to visit him. I would have gone to the funeral, and talked with old friends and said goodbye. As it is, I don't know how to mourn for someone whose body was once entwined with mine but who I hadn't seen in so many years. It's confusing to think that there were moments that were his and mine alone, and now I'm the only one who remembers them.
So, for lack of a better outlet, I'm putting it down here. My little tribute to a special and wonderful person.


Kelly said...

My deepest sympathies for such a sad loss. You've expressed your feelings and memories in a very beautiful way and I think that's a wonderful tribute to him.

Natalie said...

Your post is very touching. I can really tell how important he was to you and what a wonderful person he was. I can't even imagine what it would be like to discover something like this so late after the fact, and I hope you can find a way to grieve after others have already begun to heal.