To my friend

I lost a friend. One day she was clicking the Like button on my Facebook post and adding the hahahahahahaha laugh that brought me back her all-encompassing laugh that covered the entire universe. Sometimes letters convey messages much stronger than our real presence: that was her moment.

And then the next moment I received a message that she was involved in an accident. At least she was conscious. Whoa, I dropped a huge sigh of relief. I prayed for her, to the god/alien/universe/spirit who receives all our admirations yet does nothing practically back for us. Do something now, dammit.

But I could not bring myself seriously into the pray. Everything felt unreal. She was in the opposite side of the globe, we exchanged words online a mere few days ago. And although she had the vulnerability of a 5-year-old, she also was brimming with joy of a 5-year-old no matter what. The version of her I knew only laughed and cried. Silently lying down on a bed, not being able to move herself, was possible but unthinkable. It felt so alien to me.

Then a week later, she was gone. When I received the news, all that came into my head was Fxxk You. I tried to feel the impact. Nothing came in. Everything was unreal for me when she had the accident, and it remained so until her last moment on earth. I felt empty and dry, inside out. Maybe I was yelling Fxxk Me.

I received the information in my head, but my body was elsewhere. Or it might be that my body received the impact but didn’t know how to react at all. I was disappointed in myself. Was I that cold? I wasn’t expecting to dramatically shed tears as in North Korean people when their leaders died or the professional crying ladies hired at funerals. But I was expecting something.

But still, nothing came in. I decided to just let things be that way, half-believing I turned myself into a cold, emotion-less smart ass who is just good at pretending that he cares. I even knew she would forgive my detachedness—she was way more compassionate than I was (am)—and decided to allow myself to it. I ate my breakfast, did some work, met some friends. Life went on.

Two days later, it came. Not as sadness, not as despair, not as hatred. It came on me as a 100-ton crushing weight. Gravity increased by 300% and pressed me down to the ground. I could even hardly walk to the subway station. Pure heaviness, that was my mourning.

I have always had this delayed and skewed reaction (not crying out loud on the spot) with people passing away through my life. For some people, I still feel nothing. On the other hand, I cried for people I barely knew. I have shared my feelings with other people and they agreed: the mourning process does not work like a movie. Sometimes you do not shed a tear for people with whom you spent years or decades. That happens.

I might have been able to “try” to cry for her. I might have kicked myself to squeeze some grief immediately. But I did not. I did not want to lie to her. The fact that she wasn’t suffering any more removed the possibility of the compassionate lies. All I could do was to be genuine with her. Hence I just felt whatever came up to me, including the nothingness.

And a further week later, here I am writing down what (did not) happen, the history of a grieving that did not take place as expected. Yet as I type my words, tears are filling up slowly. I feel soft, warm sensation of her absence. The moment I longed for so long is finally coming down on me. Why?

After she went back to her native country a couple years ago, our exchange had always been through Facebook. We patted on our shoulders, gave encouragement, laughed at silly jokes, appreciated each other’s presence, all through chats and messages. Even when we were meeting face to face in Taiwan, we did not have that strong bondings. Words gave us a channel that connected our souls, removing other sensation filters.

And now, as I face my texts, I feel I am united with her again. I can hear her laughter coming up from the space between characters. “You never learn, don’t you? Hahahahahahahahahaha” You got me again, Svetlana.

I am smiling wide thinking of her, for the first time after her accident. Good boy, I can hear the voice again.