tuesdays with tara – volume sixty

Sat me down, had a chat. Men are men but we’re all half alley cat.”

 I really loved you. You meant something. I left you like you didn’t. It’s an albatross I will always wear. You are forever gone and there are no amends forthcoming. What may have appeared as indifference was pure naked fear. You were dying and before our very eyes. It was a burden that swallowed me whole. And when you asked me to help you die, well, the distance I put between us become a chasm that could never be crossed, never be filled.

 You were what people like to refer to as “a character” ; an individual of the highest caliber. You were an eccentric blue blood living on the fringe of acceptability. Cast out of your family because of your sexuality and your brazen lifestyle, you carved out an extraordinary life and made no apologies for who you were.

I was in awe of you. You were most likely in love with my husband. You never came on to him to my knowledge, but it’s possible my then husband was too polite to tell me about it, knowing how it would affect our friendship. Our bond was a found object that I treasured. Something I would reflect upon and feel a swelling in my heart. You were like no other and I loved you for that fact alone, but you gave me so many other reasons.

 You took us out to fine dinners. We were poor, but lively company. Our friendship was a fine mix of charity and genuine adoration. You opened the un-likeliest of doors for us.

 One night, we walked into a building on a block of boarded-up row houses. It was dark and desolate. There was no signage to speak of. When we walked through the door, it was like falling into a C.S.Lewis story. This was Maurice’s, a speak easy French bistro. The room opened up and we were greeted with a packed house illuminated by tabletop candles, Miles Davis on the sound system and Maurice himself, a diminutive man who resembled Pablo Picasso. Your good friend,it would turn out, he hugged you and shook our hands mightily, any friend of yours, etc. Maurice was a brooding difficult man who lived above the restaurant with his ailing mother. He learned French cooking when he was stationed in France during WWII. His pate nearly made me want to weep. It was a gem so deeply hidden, so exquisite in its underground perfection, and it was a gift that you gave to us. All you ever asked for was a little company.

 On a lark, you took up with a randy gang of hobos. They were squatting in an old row house in a shady part of town. Their days consisted of panhandling, purchasing cheap high octane vodka and lying about swilling it. There was an Irishman prone to shouting out sea chanties. There was an Appalachian woman who made stew with weeds that grew in the cracks of the sidewalk. It was unadulterated bohemian madness and you loved it for what it was.

 You had an aversion to water and french fries. You announced they were “common”. If served water in a restaurant, you waved your hand in disgust and said, “Take this away!” We judged the cool factor of our server based on their reaction to this performance. You weren’t rude. You were eccentric and there is a difference.

 You started to fall apart. You weren’t just sick anymore, you were leaving this world. There came a time when you decided the process wasn’t fast enough for your liking. You asked me to take your life. What was left of it wasn’t worth having, you said to me. You asked me if I would smother you with a pillow. It couldn’t have been an easy thing for you to ask of me. It scared me so much, the very thought of such an act, that I started running and I kept on running until you were already gone.

 My husband spoke at your funeral. I spent the whole day crying. Not only did I rob myself of the chance to say goodbye to you, but I never told you how much you meant to me.

 It’s an albatross I should be forced to carry.

2 Comments

Got something to say? Feel free, I want to hear from you! Leave a Comment

  1. mumsy says:

    Albatross’s are dead weight…I try and let all of mine fall to the wayside!! Good writing…as usual!

  2. Ginny Farrell says:

    We always have to remember that we do what is best at the time, with the knowledge that we have at that time. Who is to say that the burden of sitting with a friend who knows you have the courage and compassion to do as he asks, would have been more overwhelming that the guilt you carry now. Who is to say???? But I am sure he appreciates the fact that you think of him still.

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