His first love came to visit me and she brought a bottle of wine. I haven’t seen her in 17 years but she was the same beautiful, open-hearted girl I remembered. She brought photos they took in high school, and some letters she thought I might like to read.
She recalled his romantic soul, how he loved Marilyn Monroe in The Misfits, and how he taught her to play guitar. She remembered how emotional their fights were. He wanted her to know about his dark side and hoped she could accept that part of him.
We laughed about his habit of picking a flower to put behind his ear. He never worried about what people might think. He was so gentle, and so funny.
The dark side was his constant companion during adulthood and nothing seemed to help. He knew he could be himself with me. He knew I wouldn’t judge him or think less of him for being chronically depressed. I was always so sure that somehow he would find his way out of it. I promised him things would get better when he came home from the hospital.
We shared so much! We were each others biggest fan, most reliable sounding board, and safest refuge. I’m not even me anymore, that me is gone.
I walk by his room at night and pretend he’s there, sleeping. In my own bed, I hold his stuffed toys from long ago and cradle them like babies.
I’m trying to replace my fury toward the crazy girl with the abiding love that connects all of us who adored him. I’m trying to find meaning in words like these, by Goethe: There is strong shadow where there is much light. I’m trying to take comfort in remembering the light that was and is Max.