Saying Goodbye To A Friend

After I’d quit my dead-end dreary job that had tormented my very soul, he fed me, listening to the CBC on the radio in his dirty kitchen, stuff from his life laid bare before us, scattered across the table. Without him, I could not have done it, would not have quit, I at the very least would have starved if I’d even had the courage.

“How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ’em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.”
Shel Silverstein

Woke up this morning to a furry snout in my face that apparently had to pee – clock read 4:44AM, as I stumbled to the door to let her out. Coffee in hand, feet curled up underneath me in my chair, Buddha style, puffing away on a cylinder of sin, as more damn tears rolled down my face.

As it creeps closer, days away now, mere days.

Was over on the weekend, sitting there in his driveway, soaking up those glorious rays of sunshine, like it had been years since we’d seen that blazing ball in the blue sky, not just months upon months upon months, having a couple beers, listening to the CBC, of course, and it may be the last. Probably was.

This feeling has been sitting there staring out the window, at nothing, lost in this feeling of, well, trying to ignore that it feels like another death sort of feeling. I’m losing my best friend.

He mentioned today he noticed I’d been distant lately.

I was, I said, that’s why I’m playing hooky today, cause I suck at this, and those tears came again.

To myself I keep saying it will be fine, you were becoming way too dependant on him, and that hermit nature of yours isolates you too much – it’s for the best…you know this. And I do. I do.

Far too easy to just go around the corner then make new friends, go new places. Too much alike, as if in a way he is like a reflection, a part of me, or like two notes in harmony.

Though, really, I guess that’s not entirely fair since I have gone new places BECAUSE of him. By bike. Those two wheels underneath me taking me places I normally wouldn’t go, farther and farther away from where I began, down pathways that were too far on foot.

Went just on Sunday for a ride, after popping over to have him do a little tune up on Rose, headed out and took the south branch of the Thames Valley Parkway, winding along the Thames River, wind in my hair, soaking in the rays of the day.

Someday, soon, I’m going to venture up to The Mount, and say hi to Mary at her Grotto; my spring pilgrimage.

What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight- it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

Days away now. Days. He will be gone.

Saturday his sister comes with some van or other and all his stuff goes in, and off they go, I think the next day, Sunday morning, early.

And he’ll be gone.

I am not a very social person. Not the one to start up a conversation, don’t speak to strangers in line at the grocery store, keep to myself most of the time. I’m an introvert to my very core. Very reserved, and I don’t generally care to speak to people, usually.

I said to him this weekend I only hope one day to perhaps live around the corner from you again, and hope springs eternal.

He’s going home. Home to the lakes he grew up by. At first, he’ll live at this wonderful old farmhouse outside town, barn out back to do his carpentry, a paradise it sounds like, owned I guess by his brother-in-law. Sofie will get a splendid retirement from her feral days in the city.

He’s going back to make friends with his sons, his old self, make friends with his last remaining demons, perhaps. Not that he has a choice as the place he’s rented these last decade or so is being sold.  but just sayin’, there is good in this for both of us.

Create new things with his hands, re-acquaint with old music friends, probably.

And I’ll have to at some point meet new people, do new things.

“One has a right to judge a man by the effect he has over his friends.”
Oscar Wilde

He works for himself, doing odd carpentry jobs, building furniture on occasion, all from old pieces of wood, with old joinery’s and built often with some antiquated tools, and thus they take on a certain patina of age, giving them each a story as unique as their maker. The finished piece itself becomes his signature, with each smoothed out nail hole, worn edge and flaw, he leaves as they are.

This relationship has been like no other, and I expect to have no other of it’s kind again. From lover to friend, I’ve always known he was my Crossroad’s Man. More than just a friend, though, and more than a lover, more in some strange way I just can’t yet define. Soulmate? A mate for my soul? A signpost along the way to remind me of who I really am? I think so. All of those.

One night, a few years ago, at a bar that sits at a crossroads, one Sunday night after everyone else had gone home, after the Sunday Matinee that had ended hours and hours before. Almost empty but for the 4 of us, and the bartender. I walked in alone round 10, and asked a silly question, and got an honest answer, and that’s how we met.

I admired that he didn’t treat me like the strange girl who walks in on her own to a bar and asks you some crazy question…” what were you doing when you were 6 years old?“…like who does that?

My Dad had just turned 70, and I’d been back at the Homestead celebrating with family, and Dad had told me when I’d asked for a story of when he was young this crazy tale, which set me reeling, of his ill-spent youth stealing bikes and pawning them to the neighbourhood gang. Who does that?

And so this crossroads guy and I wandered around one another, for a bit, wondered at exactly what, how, if, in what way to define us. Or could we?

Now we exchange food products, walk over for morning coffee, him here, me there. After work, before work, days off, nights passed out in his bed or mine. Sofie last summer from the open window, catching the night air, and maybe a mouse in the night, one eye on us snoring away after a night of too many beers, and possibly whisky.

And this morning I can’t stop crying. I’ve been so good so far at keeping those tears at bay. Dang. Not hiding, per se, just can’t go around all day all teary-eyed. Its hard, though, and this morning the dam just broke as I was squatted down purveying the garden just outside my door, and the waterworks started in earnest, trickling down my cheeks like a stream.

How do you say goodbye to such a friend? A friend who made me comfortable again in my own skin, helped me to be the person I am, rather than who I think I should be. A friend who had the tenacity to tell me I was not pretty, to make a point. Me stomping off home. That took a week to get sorted out.

I let everything go, though, as a sort of barrage against any notion of another relationship, of any lover at all, because he was all I needed, right now. An inoculation against the part of me that still sometimes longed for a relationship, regardless of how destructive to my dreams and goals they had been in the past.

Now, with this couple years under my belt, I believe I can go it alone. No longer hunting the snark, and instead on bike on long larks to wherever, in my garden, listening to the world go by, at peace with my own company.

He taught me that.

How do you say goodbye?

I still don’t know. Maybe you don’t.

To learn that the one thing you always thought would make everything just right, would put all the lonely pieces of yourself in their place, and give you that wall to lean on, I always had, inside. That’s what I learned from him.

So, I went over there this morning, knocked on his door, and told him, and we talked while he made us some bacon and eggs, and drank coffee, and listened to the CBC on the radio. For a bit, it was almost like nothing was different. Yet one of us, him or I, would say something more, in this run-on talk, in bits in pieces, saying what we needed to say.

After breakfast, we went out and I helped him get his composter (full of compost YAH!) into his wagon, and he brought it over and set it up outside here in my in-between garden. Then we sat and drank some of my coffee, quietly, not saying a word for stretches, lost in our own thoughts.

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