Today is the song attached to the most painful memory I have of her before last week. The first time I heard this song was on my car ride back from Phoenix to Tucson to catch my flight home. It was on this trip home that I realized I had lost her forever — all my own doing — and this was the first song I heard on that trip, and the only one that I had never heard before. Today was her memorial service, which solidifies the fact that I’ve lost her forever.
I know, I know. This is 80s, not 90s. Well, speak for yourselves. I can’t count how many times we went to Polly Esther’s in Chicago. I could have chosen any number of 80s songs, but this was our last dance there (though most certainly not our last dance).
She coopted it from my high school years, which is great, because she was one of many who helped make law school the best years of my life.
I just found out that a dear friend from law school, Alissa, died this morning. Other than the occasional birthday hello on Facebook, I had lost touch with her a little over 10 years ago (entirely my fault). I’m in the Washington, DC area, and she was in Arizona (with a lot of time spent in Hong Kong). As a result, I’m largely in the dark as to the details, but I now know that she was in declining health for a little while, and while no one expected today to be the day, it was probably something everyone still in touch was prepared for.
I was not. Though not without precedent in my life, this is the toughest pill to swallow. Alissa is my favorite person of any I’ve met, and if not for my emotional damage at the hands of a cruel nuclear family, she and I would almost certainly have spent the rest of her life together. She was not “the one that got away”; I pushed her away. It was not out of malice, as I would never do anything to intentionally hurt her, but it almost certainly inflicted an emotional scar on her. I’m certain she had no idea why I behaved as I did, because I didn’t yet understand my issues. Once I did, I knew I needed to keep my distance to protect her and allow her to move on.
And in fact, unlike me, she did. I’m glad that she found that happiness, but I will never forgive myself for robbing both of us of that possibility. I’ve made a point of never risking doing that to anyone else.
When I first met Alissa, I thought she looked a bit like that actress from Gia. So here I am, 23 years later, and despite not liking Angelina Jolie’s acting style, watching the first movie I’ve seen with her in it since Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and she says,
“When you love something, you protect it. It’s the most natural thing in the world.”
Thena, the Eternals
But it isn’t easy, at least not when you’re protecting them from yourself.
But enough of that shit. Before Facebook took over our lives, here was her last email to me:
Of course- gorgeous…..
I’m always happy to read that.
This next photo is from the last time I saw her. I asked her for this pose, which was timely in 2008. For context, we were at her house, which is in Arizona. I share it because I love this photo. It captures her essence so well. Beautiful but down to Earth and goofy at times.
My regret and sorrow runs deep, and I deserve every bit of both.
I’ll continue to miss you every single day for the rest of my life.