Roxborough State Park, Colorado. May 2011. Original photo.

This was taken on a beautiful day at Roxborough State Park with someone new in my world who crept into it like the slow burn on a candle wick, altering the form of the life I’d built with wax. By the end of that year, I was changed. I don’t know if it was inevitable or if it was instigated by the conversations that lasted until the sun came up, watching the stars pulse through the night. But I arrived at a place of peace in the newfound silence that would fall over us. Because sometimes conversation was irrelevant and got in the way of my listening to his deep exhale that ran this mind wild. And I became okay with fragments, with unanswered questions and incomplete sentences.

I grew into a different kind of believer. One who, instead of merely accepting the catechism as solitary fact, found proof of divinity in other ways, like seeing my name written in the pages of a dusty purple notebook, scrawled between tenth grade math theorems long before he knew me. A decade earlier a psychic told him he’d meet me; said I was an extension of his soul. Is it crazy I didn’t bat an eye? When Opa died and he was high up on a mountaintop with no cell reception, he said he felt compelled to reach lower ground because he heard me crying. He came home early and held my hand and we just breathed. We breathed. When I told him of the voice I heard in Kušadasi two weeks later, watching the white candles melt into the sand that held them in place, he smiled because he believed me. Maybe we were both a little crazy, but maybe I’m okay with that.

He showed up in a dream of mine after they found him. He was surrounded by the same deep glow I feel shake my chest when I’m near still water; the warmth that flooded my lungs when I rounded that mountain road and heard him nearly a year later, his body turned to ash. I pulled onto the shoulder and let it wash over me like baptism, streaming down my smiling face. He said we’d be magnificent, and in moments like that, his promise holds true. I wrote it on my arm with ink and needle, so as I hold my pen to write these words the phrase moves in rhythm with percussive scratches on paper.

I still hear him sometimes when the wind blows just right. At the start of a new year I laid on a mat that rested on wooden boards and closed my eyes to the sound of rain beating on the tin roof. Small droplets splashed off the giant leaves that outlined the edge of the structure, spraying my naked face. I went somewhere quiet in my mind, the silence reminiscent of those drives we’d take or those nights spent counting stars and breaths.

I wish I kept the pictures I took of him that day in the park, right after this one was taken. He asked me to erase it, so I listened. I have to settle for the ones etched in the recesses of my memory that sit with our silence, resurfacing when I come across pictures like this, and draw comfort from these words as they fall from that aching part of my soul like morning dew on fern leaves.

Originally written January 26 2017, between home, under a big Banyan tree, and scraps of paper at the hospital. 

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