It's sixteen months ago. You've been gone approximately ten days. I make it to your funeral. The next day, in one of the rarest moments of my life, I simply cannot think of a single reason to get out of bed. I finally do and write a bit about you. I read a poem that always makes me think of you, think of the dark parts of life. That open up to the light.
It's fourteen months ago. Something is on the horizon. I can't put my finger on it yet, but it's causing me great disquiet. I try to swallow down my fear. You, are having trouble swallowing at all.
It's twelve months ago. I'm in Chicago for the first time, on a business trip. On the second night, I opt to stay in my hotel room to read a book. You visit me there, a calm presence. I feel like I should heed your warning. But I don't know what I am being warned about. Yet.
It's eleven months ago. Life is upside down. He has his diagnosis, and the other he has another she. I drift through the beautiful month of May watching the sunsets as I run through the streets of the city, running away from my pounding anxiety. I am fighting with life right now. Then May is over. My sister arrives with flowers, sushi, and champagne. We toast to a rosier future.
It's seven months ago. I drive east, by myself, looking for someone I haven't quite found yet. Crows chart my progress. This time I visit you. This time I let you go, finally. I run through September, too. I run through Central Park, the leafy greenness overwhelming. You are sitting on a bench, a stranger, and I catch your eye. You are alone, and sad in your aloneness. You give me a brief, sad, smile. I feel the same sense of warning I had in my Chicago hotel room, that previous April, before everything imploded.
It's four months ago. The disquiet is back. The worry has returned. I don't believe the doctors, but I want them so badly to be right. Yes, it's fine! It's all ok! New Years eve away from home, I sip champagne weakly and wait for my flu to pass so I can visit again.
It's last night. I am on a northbound subway, headed to meet a friend with many gifts. The platform is packed, I have to wait for the next train. I sit down, people all around me, doing crosswords, texting furiously on cellphones, shutting themselves away. I can't see behind me. One stop before mine, a stranger, standing out of view, sings one line of an obscure song. But I know what song it is. It is an old favourite.
"And, when I awoke, I was alone, this bird had flown".
His voice is young and clear, perfectly pitched. I stare at the subway window, it's blackness reflecting nothing. I can't see the stranger who has sang this random line, out of nowhere. It is my stop. I get up and off the train without turning around. The back of my neck is prickly with curiosity.
It's today. I need strong coffee and a strong outlook. Was this my next warning?