One of Blake's best friends lives a couple blocks away from me in San Diego. When Blake and I first started planning on moving here, we brought up his friend's name all the time. How great will it be for us to know someone who already lives here? We'll go out with him. Double date with him and his girlfriend. You two can get close again. It made our already exciting plan even better knowing he was there.
During Blake's funeral weekend, the majority of the planning, reminiscing, and saying goodbye went on at this particular friend's house. It was only fitting, considering many of their parties back in high school were hosted there. I went to high school with Blake and all of his friends, but was a grade younger. Although they all took me in and made me feel like I had been part of their friend group all along, he was someone I actually knew from before. So that Saturday night after the funeral when we were all over there, I asked him to leave the party to talk to me when I needed to release some thoughts and information I had inside my head.
We sat side by side on the lawn chairs as I recounted painful details of the months leading up to Blake's death. His friend looked down at the ground. His face, which was once warm with empathy for me, went ghostly pale. Instead of the loving arm around my back to comfort me, his hands began to clasp together as his body language demonstrated that he was trying to escape. "I'm sorry, did I say too much?"
He politely, but sternly told me that he didn't want to hear it. Any of it. Maybe it felt like the right thing for me to analyze exactly what went on, for how long, and all of the other excruciatingly difficult details, but it wasn't. Not for him, anyway. The Blake he knew was always happy, smiling, the glue that held his friend group together after all of these years. Although what I told him may have been Blake's reality at the time of his death, it wasn't a reality that he felt was necessary to dwell on. He felt awful that I was picking Blake apart. He wanted to see me and remember how in love Blake and I were. That's what I needed to focus on too. He gave me a hug, got up, and joined his friends back inside.
I went over that conversation again and again in my head. At first I felt sorry for him, thinking that he wasn't dealing with Blake's death properly. I thought he needed to process everything that went on so that he could come to terms with it, like I was trying to do. But then I realized that that thinking wasn't right. Because everyone deals with loss differently, there's no one way that's better than another. If he wanted to remember only happy times, then that's what he needed to do. It was unfair for me to try to force an image of Blake on him that he didn't know and frankly, didn't need to know. I wrote him an email to apologize and vowed only to be happy and speak highly of Blake whenever I was around him once I moved to San Diego.
I've seen his friend out several times since moving here, but we never spoke of Blake or that conversation again until this Saturday night. While we were both out celebrating our mutual friend's birthday, I started innocently talking to a guy. Apparently this guy works with Blake's friend, so when he saw us together he came up and started telling us how awesome it was that we were talking. My face got bright red. Not only was this a guy I just barely met, I was mortified that I was caught flirting by Blake's friend. Although it's been almost 10 months, I felt overwhelming guilt for being seen with someone else by someone so close to Blake.
I finally brought up that conversation at his house after Blake's funeral. As I explained to him what was going through my head, he reassured me that it was ok. It was all ok. We are going to get through this together.
As we walked back together to rejoin our friends, I started thinking about Blake and my plan to move to San Diego. We brought up this friend's name all the time, which made our already exciting plan even better knowing he was here. He's still here, and so am I. And in that moment when we turned our more serious conversation into a series of funny stories about our Blake, he was there too. Just like we always planned.