Of all the things I want to remember in this season of life, this final semester of graduate school, this transition away from schooling and into a career of unknown, a general anxiousness of possibility, of anything and everything and nothing, what I want to remember most is the vulnerability.
It's been over a year and a half since you died, twenty months, a life time of days. I mark time by your absence, before or after August 2011. Often times I don't remember the date, the 26th or 27th, an enormous hinge of time teetering on existence, slipping into extinction.
In the past year, mourning has widely played a minor fiddle to the day to day, a subtle knocking, dull ache, scroll through my cellphone and linger over your name. The frailty of these days, the exhaustion and foggy-headedness of this semester's final month break down the space between my reality and your reality.
We take an early morning walk through the cemetery, pausing over familiar names of which there are many. Our sledding hill has grown smaller, houses sit closer, the wooded retreat of adolescent summers has been cleared and given way to pasture. I stand in the back of that land, look out over the weathered stones, turn and watch cars amble along the highway that once was veiled. No mound of dirt bears your name. We walk out the wiry gates as skateboards and skip-its fall silent, a cloud of nostalgia clears.
Your presence is tangible. Your thick body and big old feet kicking the gravel all along the road home. Our childhood town is haunting, broken, worn down and empty. I suck in my breath at every stop sign, turn my head slowly from side to side, wait for you to round the corner. You are there, Brad. You're still alive and I'm still pissed that you're dead.