There is a girl I have met recently. She is in my program, and she is an incredibly sweet, energetic girl.
And she reminds me of Kim.
It's not just that she's quite short, with medium-brown hair, or that she's got a cute voice ... it's not just her physical characteristics that remind me of Kim. It's something about her personality, her smile, the way she says my name that makes me catch my breath.
There have been a couple times, where I've almost said it to her.
But whereas, once I would have probably said, "You remind me so much of a good friend of mine!" it is now just to creepy to say, "Hey, you remind me of my dead friend!!"
Besides the obvious weird/creepy factor, I worry that if I give voice to this idea so early in knowing my new friend, that I won't be able to see her for who she really is. Because, clearly she's not Kim, nor a replacement-Kim. Kim will never come back to life, and there will never be a replacement-Kim, one has to face the facts. Best then to treat this fledgling friendship as any other, to treat my new friend on her own terms. Best to check my emotional baggage at the curb.
But it's not easy.
People claim that wounds heal over time, and I'm not going to claim that my experience is universal, but my experience is that they emphatically do not. But nor would we want them to. Just as a war veteran might gain a sense of identity through his scar, so too, do I gain a sense of identity through my scars. If I couldn't think about my dad, and metaphorically rub the scar that cuts a wide swathe across my heart, who would I be? Would I be a bad daughter? Or merely a forgetful one? I'm not sure, but I do know I don't want to find out.
Some days the scars itch more than others, and some days they positively ache. And some days, you purposefully press on the scar, to remind yourself what pain feels like.
Today, the 1st of November, is Dia De Los Muertos, a day for celebrating and honoring the dead, a day that has had increasing resonance in my life. You see, most days, for me, are about repressing the dead. Because thinking too much about the dead is essentially pushing purposefully on the scar. And though there is a validity to it, if I pressed on my scar every day, I would never be able to survive. So most of the days are about reducing the ache, ignoring the itch. Most days are about biting your tongue instead of saying, "You remind me of my dead friend."
Today, on the other hand, is a day of release. A day to grieve. A day to allow myself the luxury of crying for an hour if I feel like it. A day to play parlor games with myself: How would Kim have felt about the election? (Well she'd obviously be very excited.) Would my dad have enjoyed the latest P.D. James? (He might have, though its possible, that like me, he would have been a little deflated by it.)
Today I will honor the dead in the only ways I can. By grieving, by loving, by memorializing, by tracing the scars on my heart. For one day.
And then tomorrow, I will dry my tears. I will leave the scar alone. Instead, I will move forward, maybe email my new friend, and get to know her for herself over a couple of pints.
I think Kim would approve.
2 months ago