Today as I made breakfast in the kitchen at work, my old neighbor popped into my head. I’m not sure how or why, but all of a sudden I found myself in deep thought about John Michael.
A few months ago, I had written a note to myself in a journal to think more about all the memories of that time in my life. When John Michael and Chad moved in, and I became best friends with their daughter. We were best friends, and our parents best friends as well, and had many years of friendship and extremely enjoyable memories. I stumbled across a box of photos of this time in my life a few months ago, prompting me to make that note to myself.
So here I stood at work, thinking about John Michael – simple, lovely thoughts. I can’t tell you anything in particular – he hummed through my mind…his smile, his laugh, his energy. I got back to my desk with a bowl full of yogurt and looked at my phone to see a notification from Facebook – it was John Michael’s birthday today. I wanted to smile, but didn’t. How peculiar, I thought. He and his partner both passed away some number of years ago.
I’ve been sick this weekend and taking a lot of bubble baths to relax (actually, I take a lot of bubble baths in general). I like to add milk and baking soda and bath salts and good smelling things to soak in. The other night, as I floated at the surface, I thought of a friend of mine who died some years ago – two and half, if we have to put an estimate on it. She had been stressed by a number of things in life, which I had been made privy to, and decided to take a bubble bath to help relax. But, stress tended to set off epileptic seizures for her. She had one, and drowned. I thought about that as I floated on top of my milky water the other night – not in a morbid way, but just in a way that one thinks of a friend. In that moment, her death was very relatable, and also not.
I thought about the last time that I had seen this friend. It was just a week or so before she died. It was Fourth of July. We met up after watching the city fireworks and spent the evening at a friend’s apartment. Outside, we put off smaller fireworks and sparklers and ran around screaming in the summer night, laughing and giggling with delight. There are no unhappy memories from the last time I saw her. Only joy and relief and a sense of free-ness.
Recently as I tended the peace lily that I grow in her honor and memory and love, I noticed a small bloom forming. The first bloom since I bought the plant on the eve of her funeral. I smiled.
I’m not sure that I find myself thinking about these people and these things enough. Do I get too caught up in what is happening right here and now to let these people enter the short-term circuit of my memory? I spent the evening after my bubble bath with my friend who died on my mind. Tonight, I imagine I will be thinking about John Michael and the decade+ of memories surrounding him. How easy it is to forget the things that we do not breathe heavy into.