Monday, April 21, 2008

Beating hearts

It has been one year since we watched Moira bury her mother. And this weekend, we stood at a cemetery in Rhode Island and looked on as Talia placed a flower on her father's casket. Another April, and another one of us has lost someone they loved most.

Our heels pressed into the soft grass and buds bloomed on cemetery trees. The awakening, changing life surrounding this lasting death was not lost on us. But Talia's sunken eyes and pasty complexion showed everyone that the only thing she saw was loss.

Her bones looked too heavy for her skin to support. Her sorrow churned inside our stomachs and fell like a heavy shawl on our shoulders. We would each carry our friend's sadness home, wishing we could really scoop it out of her with little shovels and swallow it ourselves like giant pills that hurt going down.

In our cars driving home, the air pummeled our car. We drove with the windows down, letting the breeze whip away the some of the dusty sorrow until we felt clean. But Talia will never be cleansed, and for that we felt selfish.

Selfish because we could not share our happiness. And because we knew that like Moira, it would take a very long time before Talia was truly happy again.

By the time we got to New York City, we were blanketed in cheer. The distance had sagged our hearts over the months, and they inflated like little red balloons and bounced against our rib cages when we laughed together again.

The city's life electrified our cells until we could barely remember that death was what had brought us together this weekend in the first place. We were in a new world than the one we left that morning.

In New York City there are so many hearts beating at once that you cannot help but fall in sync with the ones who are beating like yours at that exact moment. When you are happy, all you can see are the hundreds of other happy people making their way down the street with you, ducking in and out of stores and restaurants and bars, holding hands, carrying bags, pushing strollers, walking dogs.

And if you do happen to bump into someone whose heart is not beating with yours, it is almost startling. And their sadness or loneliness or whatever it is they are feeling at that moment that you are not is all the more painful to see.

But that night as we weaved our way through the busy streets I could only think about the emotions you feel when you are with the friends you love the most after being away for a very long time.

And as it often happens with us, one drink turned into many and we danced and forgot that by that time the next day, we would all be back in our own cities, spread across the country again.

We came together to comfort our friend, and in turn our presence comforted each other. In a single day we cried until we laughed, and then laughed until we cried.

The next day on my way back to Philadelphia, I smiled at thoughts of the hilarity of the previous night. Until of course, those thoughts was overtaken by the intense focus of not peeing my pants after the too many cups of coffee I swallowed at brunch that morning.

And after I peed on the side of the highway and a continuous line of passing cars got a good, long look at my bare ass, as Moira howled with laughter in the passenger seat, all I could think about was how much I freaking love my friends.

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