Time and Space, My Friend

We were friends, weren’t we? I’ve had longer conversations with strangers but that’s not the point. They weren’t you.

When he and I reconnected on Facebook in 2009, thirty years had passed us. In a message, he gave the CliffsNotes version of his life. A single paragraph told me about his wife, his kids, pets, house, career, travel. That paragraph totaled 120 words—four words for every year since high school.  (I think, four words: You are my friend.) Zoom. Thirty years pass, just like that.

To catch up on my life, he read every blog post I had written, spanning two years. It was a patient and generous thing to do. He said he shared my love for maps, writing, “I, too, want to know ‘where I stand,’ so to speak, and even take it further: I like to have thermometers, barometers, clocks, etc., where I can further assess my time and space.”

Time and space = everything.

I can remember the first time we met. We sat next to each other in Algebra A, 1975, ninth grade. We scribbled notes and drawings on a piece of purple-stained mimeograph paper, passing it back and forth, a copy for me and a copy for him. I could not concentrate on the equations scrawled across the chalkboard. He had hiccups all the time. Hic. Hic. Hic. Me, doubled over the side of my desk, laughing. That’s what I remember: You made me laugh. He was a gangly, 15-year-old boy with broad swimmer shoulders and chlorine-streaked hair that shimmered like a new penny; a boy who hiccupped compulsively. He made that year bearable.

We never shared a class or, really, any time together after that. I went to the alternative school and he went to main campus. Time and space.

He said his last memory of me was our graduation. It was like this: “…We had just finished the ceremony; I walked into what I remember to be a virtually empty lobby. You had just done the same, from the opposite side, and you hugged me. Having spent four years…in anonymity, to say the least, you made my day. I’ve always wanted to thank you for that.”

The sadness behind his thank-you—this belief that no one knew him—still steals my breath. You were my friend.

All I remember about graduation is being ashamed of my shoes. My fucking shoes. So today I exchange my memory for his. I make it my own: we were kind to each other when the reality of all that we would leave behind and all that we would find ahead smacked us across the face.

His last message to me was in 2011, in reference to a blog post I had written:  “Keep exploring the cracks and fissures, Meg. Keep exploring the cracks and fissures…”  I thanked him for that. I wished him a happy birthday every couple of years when the date came around, posts that sit without comment on his page. Our friendship dissolved into time and space again.

I didn’t know that he had been sick, didn’t know that he was dying. We had not invested in our friendship the kind of capital that is entitled to share such private experiences.  I learned today that he had died last week, surrounded by loved ones.

I put this memory here: on a map, marking a moment and place. I say, “Thank you for your kindness.”  

One time, long ago, we were friends.

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36 Comments Time and Space, My Friend

  1. Lauri Kaplan March 18, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Don’t ever stop writing, Meg. When I read your blog posts I am so moved. Every time. I don’t have a way with words, but I sure do appreciate your gifts and talents!

    Reply
    1. Meg March 19, 2015 at 9:27 am

      You are too kind, Lauri. I really appreciate your reading and am so glad you enjoy it. Hugs to you!

      Reply
  2. Kevin Reynolds March 18, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    Your words have always filled my heart and I’m incredibly sorry I haven’t told you that enough. I’m sorry for your loss…even if you weren’t close, you meant something to one another and that’s reason to grieve.

    Reply
    1. Meg March 19, 2015 at 9:28 am

      Kev! No apologies! Why would you think you need to apologize? I love you. Your friendship is all I need. Thank you for this. <3

      Reply
  3. Stacie March 19, 2015 at 9:50 am

    Meg, this is so beautifully written and so relatable. It’s so hard to lose a friend.

    Reply
    1. MegMeg June 9, 2015 at 11:29 pm

      Thank you!

      Reply
  4. Cheney March 19, 2015 at 10:37 am

    You really do tell a damn good story. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Meg March 20, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      Thank you, Cheney!

      Reply
  5. Arden Ruth March 19, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Meg, your words always captivate me, even on such a grueling topic such as this. I’m so sorry about your friend.

    Reply
    1. Meg March 20, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      Thanks, dear Arden. I miss us both being on the fic|po grid at the same time with stories. Must do more fiction. xoxo

      Reply
      1. Arden Ruth March 20, 2015 at 10:30 pm

        I know! I feel like things are finally calming down on my end a bit. I’ve got a few stories I want to flesh out 🙂 See you on the grid, love!

        Reply
  6. Shailaja/ The Moving Quill March 19, 2015 at 10:49 am

    I don’t want to ‘Like’ this, Meg but this is so heartbreakingly beautiful, it’s hard to know what to say. I think you just gave him the best tribute ever. Eyes are streaming right now.

    Reply
    1. Meg March 20, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      You are very kind, as always, Shailaja. Thank you for reading.

      Reply
  7. Silverleaf March 19, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    My dear friend, your spirit is beautiful. I love this. I love all your writing, but this is among the most perfect. It is an ode to friendship, a mourning of the passage of time and a heartfelt, tender memory of one person who touched you and whom you touched – and all those who touch all of us. Just beautiful. Hugs xo

    Reply
    1. Meg March 20, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      Love you dearly. Very moved by your words…I’m a little speechless and grateful. <3

      Reply
      1. Silverleaf March 20, 2015 at 10:53 pm

        ❤️ This really is a special piece – and you shine all the way through it. Love and hugs xo

        Reply
    1. Meg March 20, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      Aww, thanks, Karen. I miss your writing. Please write. xo

      Reply
  8. oldendaysk March 19, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    So now that the cat is out of the bag, or the Kay is out of the bag…I will share with you that I came home a few days ago to find JR crying, he was reading about your friend. Third grade was filled with memories of your friend and JR. It was a time and space for them. Your account of this friendship is…well I just have no words. Beautiful seems too overused, but deep abiding beauty is what your words are. I hope you share them with your friend’s family.

    Reply
    1. Meg March 20, 2015 at 10:28 pm

      I wondered if JR grew up with our friend. I thought about sharing it and then thought it would seem like it was more about me. I’m so glad you are contributing to yeah write. It has made me a much more disciplined writer — better at editing and rewriting, although this piece was really rough and had to go through several rewrites to even make sense. Congrats on your top row place! Please give JR a hug for me and tell him I’m so sorry for our shared loss. <3

      Reply
  9. walt walker March 20, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    That was a heartbreaker. A sad story well told.

    Reply
    1. Meg March 20, 2015 at 10:29 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind reading and comment.

      Reply
  10. Natalie DeYoung March 26, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Meg, my breath was taken away.

    Reply
    1. Meg April 8, 2015 at 11:46 pm

      Thank you, sweetie. <3

      Reply
  11. Maria Brinkley March 31, 2015 at 9:58 am

    This is so beautifully written, Meg. What a gift with words you have. This story touches my heart.

    Reply
    1. Meg April 8, 2015 at 11:47 pm

      What a lovely comment, Maria. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading.

      Reply
  12. mike April 12, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    i’ve lived and felt this very same thing only you put it into words i couldn’t

    Reply
  13. Stephen Thom April 14, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Wonderful words, Meg. There’s an intimacy to storytelling, a wonderful level of connection, and the fact that people can still be talking directly to us in this way, long after they’re gone, is a miracle. You are making wax of time; preserving and sustaining and nourishing this friendship… words, moments and thoughts with what you do.

    Reply
    1. Meg April 22, 2015 at 9:14 pm

      “Making wax of time” — I love that description. Thanks, Stephen. You are so kind.

      Reply
    1. MegMeg June 9, 2015 at 11:30 pm

      Thanks so much for reading, Julian

      Reply
    1. MegMeg June 9, 2015 at 11:30 pm

      Thank you!

      Reply
    1. MegMeg June 9, 2015 at 11:31 pm

      Thank you for reading and your generous comment.

      Reply

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