I have a ton of announcements to make, blah blah blah… bookplates are late but are being mailed (sorry! thank you for being patient), we’re going to LA next weekend and possibly going to San Francisco in June. I will give you all those details. But I was writing all of that when suddenly I processed a lot of what has happened over the last month. It all just hit me and almost knocked me out of my chair. Now I’m standing at the kitchen counter on my laptop and I have to get this out or I might explode.
This is something I said at every single book signing: I have lived both sides. I have lived the side of depression that convinced me I was a waste of space, that I was a burden and that the people in my life no longer wanted to deal with my shit or have me around. It lured me and manipulated me and sucked me into a closet where I’d call my mom and would sob without saying a word. I did not want to be alive where I was causing all this pain. You can read all about those lovely phone calls in my book. My mother, turns out, is the star (duh). If they ever made a movie out of this story she’d be the lead and Meryl Streep would beg to play her role. Because my mother’s duality is her undeniable charm. She is the most Christ-like person alive, and yet she will flip the bird to any motherfucker who crosses her (in jest, of course, maybe) and turn the word “shit” into a four-syllable word.
And then I have lived and am now living on this side, where I know my kids need me and want me and love me. My family and friends want to have me around. And I know, here on this side, that if I were to lose anyone I love as much as they love me that it would leave a void so vast and deep that the mourning of them being gone would alter my life in indescribable ways, in ways that couldn’t be fixed. I wouldn’t get over it. We want you here. Please don’t go.
We would not get over it.
I heard so many stories of grief and loss on this tour. I absorbed the pain of people who tried to burrow through that lie in the head of the one they loved so much, but the lie had already won. And they may have had to move on with their lives, but they are not over it. Not even close. They will not ever be over the loss of you in their lives.
The trauma of losing your light and your touch and your scent and the way you part your hair. The way you tease people in a crosswalk by lurching your car a few inches toward them. The odd and wrong way you tie your shoes. How you cannot be bothered to hang up a wet towel. Your love of Katy Perry and how you reconcile that with your devotion to the Sex Pistols and affinity for quoting Percy Bysshe Shelley. The way all dogs ignore everyone but you when you are in the room. That you haven’t ever learned how to crack a goddamn egg, really? Still spilling that yolk all over the floor? How you always stopped and made a point to thank every flight attendant and pilot on your 45-minute flight to Burbank. The way your signature looks like a cat coughed up a hairball and tried to unfurl it into a word. That joke you think is funny when someone asks you, “Are you ready?” and before they can finish the question you yell, “I WAS BORN READY!” How you’ve learned to get over the fact that no one else will replace the toilet paper so you do it in silence with no expectation of appreciation. Your laugh. My god, your laugh. Your laugh is exactly like a yawn in that we cannot help but laugh with you when we hear that joy escaping your throat. It fills your whole body and sounds like a weapon someone would use to blow holes into a neighbor’s trashcan. Because that neighbor never picked up their dog’s shit and you understand that someone needs to blow holes into their trashcan. And when the cops show up you pull out the charm of a crosswalk car-lurcher, someone who signs checks and the result looks like you put a pen into your ear to test out the possible physics of maybe I could write with my ear, and all the charisma that speaks above what humans can understand and lures the dog in the room to sit by you and rest its head into your lap, and the cop is all, “Have a good night!”
You don’t think about these things when your brain is over on that other side. You don’t know that we notice all these things about you. And yes, sometimes we get irritated or don’t want to have to tell you one more damn time to hang up that wet towel. But if you were gone we’d leave all our wet towels on the bathroom floor and as they dropped from our hands we would drop to the floor with them. And we’d lie there and weep. About all that you gave to this world, how your laughter shook it open. We would mourn and ache and listen to Katy Perry and flinch so violently when someone asks us if we’re ready that they also have to ask us if we’re okay, do we need to sit down for a minute? We’d pause at crosswalks and wave at people who have stopped for us wondering if they know how painful it is for us to see those lines on the pavement, how we need them to be a little more patient this time because we don’t know how we can even walk past them. We would stop to pet every dog we meet and we’d whisper your name into their ears.
You may think that when you walk into a room that you do not light it up, fuck, but do not lay down with that demon. You would be missed with the gravity of unknown universes inside those who love you, vast expanses of space inside every vein and molecule and atom, and even though I do not believe in an afterlife I know that somewhere in the relativity of time and space and light, because of that blip of a moment of all moments lived on this earth when we could smell your scent and touch your face, you would hear us wailing. And you would know you are loved.
We want you here. Please don’t go.