i still get upset about robin williams. he was very little to me; meant more to my brother, spoke the best lines in my favorite movies, was a stunning actor. but i, in my head, never paid much attention to things like fame, and loved him like a distant uncle, but distant indeed. i can’t watch those movies the same way. i think about what was chasing him, what was chasing me.
some people tell me they won’t be missed. their lives are not sparks but dull, the regular, the forgettable. that their absence would be a small celebration, that when they left the burden would evaporate and somebody else, somebody better, would spill in waves to fill the empty space. that the forgettable get forgot, that the unexceptional are only spared half of a thought.
but i love the man who let me turn left at a busy intersection even though he had right of way today and i’m still thinking about him. i’m still thinking about the teenage girl i taught four years ago who was spiraling, who came to me and whispered she wasn’t planning on an eighteenth year - who was out of my hands, who was “taken care of” who i tried my hardest for and who still disappeared like smoke in the air. i still think about the girl in my dance class who, when we were both seven, taught me the magic potion of fingers and throats, who kept a secret, who reached out to me just once later to say, “remember when we were young and i was unafraid” and i said yes, we threw barbie heads at the ceiling, and she said, “i’m calling from inpatient. i never forgot that you were my friend. thank you for that. that’s it. the end.”
and at night i tell myself the names of others or i pass their features over my eyes. i think about how our dreams can’t make up faces and how each night like a litany i bring back people to fill in seats, and how some of these people are dead, and how i wake up and barely know them and still miss them. and i tell myself that with all this love i have in a bucket that if i dropped into the sky and took off with myself and painted myself into the ground - i say i’m mediocre. i couldn’t bear it if someone else went off but if i did that’s just fine. the world needs less poets. the world needs less open mouths. the world needs less of me and more people who can function properly.
and i know you’re reading this and most likely you’ve felt the same thing. that everybody has a life that’s precious unless it’s you, and your untalented unproductive unhelpful self, with heavy hands and a little too much rust in the places that should shine. so here’s the deal. i’ll make a promise and if you keep yours, i’ll keep mine.
if you won’t die, then i won’t die. and we two can live in distant orbits around each other, admiring each other like the other is robin williams, planets that never speak, only listen, two stars with our own complicated galaxies we feel swallowed by - but if you won’t die, then i won’t die.
and if you keep yours, i’ll keep mine. and we’ll remember each other. and we’ll fill up the sky.