A few weeks ago one night your name came to mind, although I had not heard much of you recently. I decided to add you as a friend on Facebook that night as I had heard of you as a really good friend, an older sister sort of person to our mutual friend, that you wished me well when I wasn’t well, that you could understand, although we did not speak personally. I wrote your name in the search on Facebook, your profile came up, and I requested your friendship.
Soon after, you accepted it, and sent me a message through Messenger. You made a joke and gave me a nice nickname, ‘little lady,’ and there was a feeling that we had been friends for years or as if I had been your sister. You were close in age to my own sister, and I had heard how you were active about outwardly protecting people who were mistreated in some way as my own sister has been toward me.
Wednesday morning, I received your message from the night before after I had gone to bed, and I wrote back what I had been doing that morning. You responded saying it sounded cool, you had done much of the same thing, and that you had had a bad day the day before and had not gone to work, with an emoticon that had a look of surprise but didn’t seem painful.
(I was thinking if I should ask what happened, that I wanted to hear, but I thought at the time it can be off-putting to ask personal questions to someone you’ve just met.)
So I wrote, ‘Aw, I am sorry to hear that, hope today was better, feel free to talk about it if you’d like, either way is fine.’
You said, ‘Thank you. I appreciate that.’
I placed a heart on that message.
I was looking forward to talking again. I thought I’d message you again Friday some time in the early evening after you were out of work.
I thought of you on Thursday before lunchtime, a thought came to mind- if you were online or had gone to work. I saw your name in Messenger and saw you had not been online, and I wasn’t on Facebook after that, had lunch, and texted with a friend. Thursday night I did yoga on Facebook live.
Friday morning, I made a cup of black tea with almond milk, which I poured into a ceramic pitcher and into a cup, a pitcher from a tea set my grandmother gave me that I hadn’t used in years. I placed a drop of honey in the tea. I only put milk and honey in black tea, and I thought of my Grandma very much when I drank it.
Sometime when I first moved to Massachusetts, she gave me the tea set with the beautiful gold-trimmed multi-colored floral white porcelain cups I use often. I hadn’t enjoyed black tea in a very long time, hadn’t been in the mood for it, but when I began to drink it, I remembered my grandma drinking black tea with milk and sugar, while I had my green, talking together at her kitchen table in Brooklyn. I was grateful I had the tea set now as another thing that reminded me of her.
A thought came that from what I’d heard of you, along with my own sister, you reminded me of a more outwardly tough, more earthy version of my grandmother and closer to my age, with a kind of genuine care for other people that she had.
I felt happy when I thought that I would message you and ask how your day had been, some time in the conversation I thought I might ask if you’d listened to music recently or if there was a certain musician you’d listened to a lot.
Friday morning just before lunch I received a phone call from a crying mutual friend. I knew then someone had died and sensed that recognizable heaviness of the air before a storm. It was you who had died. I was shocked and cried instantly. I had only spoken to you once through text—the tragic news crushed me then as if something heavy had landed on me and would not be lifted.
I found out that you had died Thursday afternoon, the day after we talked on Messenger.
I checked my Facebook Messenger. I felt it couldn’t be true. It still said we were friends, the messages were still there and it showed when you were last active. I discovered you had last been online when I was having lunch Thursday, and that you had deactivated your Facebook at that time. I know you had had a bad day on Tuesday, but I never knew what had happened then or on the day you died. I didn’t know you well personally, and I did not think I wouldn’t be able to know you better.
I read these lines the day after, which I had written on Tuesday morning of your bad day and added you as a friend that night, but the words I wrote in the morning and the thought to add you as a friend that night were not connected in my mind.
These were the words:
You don’t have to hide from the dark. Be within it. Feel it. Cry if tears come. See a star appear, blurry—it will still gleam. And then listen to the singing of angels. You may not immediately smile. You may still be in the dark. But you will have heard them.
I am sad that I did not get to ask how your day had been or make a joke of my own. I am sad that I did not get to ask what kind of music you liked or if there were any musicians or songs you had been listening to recently. I am sad for all those who loved you.
Last night, a few weeks after you left this world, I saw you in my dream. You were not wearing a construction hat, you looked the same as I’d seen, but your face was glowing like I’d never seen a person glow on earth. There was an indescribable light in your eyes and you were smiling, peacefully happy. I might have asked what music you liked as you said in the dream, “U2.” The joy was clear in your voice.
I woke with the song “One Tree Hill” in my head. I’d only discovered the name of it when I looked up some of the lyrics. Here are two lines from that song:
I know you are well, only partially known to me kind-strong friend. Perhaps you had enjoyed the singing angels, too and that you joked about the performance afterwards, so that those in your company laughed along and knew something good was just to come.