Day 23 is a day to reflect on my friendship with BJB. We have had a complicated relationship over the years. We met 13 years ago (1995). Originally, she was my student. Then we were colleagues...we knew we liked each other and started talking on the phone. We got together one time socially, I think, but had run into each other over the years in the Deaf Community. She had met Roby a couple of times...
The December when Roby went into the hospital, she and I had agreed to try to get together over the holidays. She tried to call me a few times, unaware that I was in the middle of the biggest trauma of my life. Finally, I called her and told her what was happening...I remember I was on my way to the hospital and remembered that I needed to call her back. I pulled over at a 7-11 (it was before cell phones had taken over the land) and called and told her.
The next time I saw her was at Roby's memorial service. After it was all over, people wandered away from the graveyard slowly but I was still standing over his gravesite. I wanted to lay down right there and die. We had let a bunch of balloons go and I was watching them fly off into the sky...I was devestated and I didn't know what to do or where to go after that...I felt like my insides were on the outside and they burned with every breath I took. She walked up to me quietly and took my hand. I told her the "Paper Caper" story about balloons and we just stood there.
Later, when I was able to talk about it, I was relieved to know she had been as horrified as I to hear the preacher utter the words, "Roby was a storyteller and Jesus was a storyteller...Roby was a leader of men and Jesus was a leader of men..." She was one of the audible gasps in the pews. What a nightmare.
No matter what happened over the years to separate us - work, life, depression, different worlds, different jobs - I am eternally thankful for her. She helped me come back to life and she was very patient about it. She let me talk about Roby dying. She let me talk about my pain. She let me cry and grieve. Most other people wanted me to be quiet and get over it. She never did. I didn't really know that talking about death was taboo in this culture - I had never really had to deal with it. I didn't really know how much I wished people could see my pain. I felt like my skin had been ripped off but no one could see that. Death is an invisible cloak. You look fine, even though you can't imagine taking your next breath. She understood that.
Roby was so dominant in my life - my musical tastes, my movie tastes, even the food I ate all revolved around him. He introduced me to music, to movies, to ideas, to food. I followed willingly because that was our way. BJB demanded that I become myself. She gave me time to do it, but she wouldn't let me fade away. Sometimes it was hard and I wanted to scream at her to just leave me alone. I didn't and she didn't.
Later on, when my pain was less raw, we had some tough times. Our relationship changed radically, but there is still, always, love and gratitude. We will always share a bond as we had to deal with the death of our family and friends, both mutual and otherwise. We shared bulk food roulette and "whole canned chicken - tasty hot or cold".
We will always share many bonds that are private and personal and too numerous to get into here.
BJB, thank you for nursing me back to spiritual health. Thank you for not letting me slide away into oblivion. I am a better person because of you. I often thought that Roby sent you to me...he knew I needed someone to hold out the life preserver for me when he was gone. Thank you for holding it there for me. I know sometimes it made your arms tired, but you stuck it out. I hope you know that I would do the same for you if you ever needed it. Thank you for all you have given me - life, purpose and a lot of wicked laughter.