You walk and walk, slower and slower as you are about to reach your destination: you don’t want to be there, you don’t want to accept that it happened, and that there is no one waking you up and telling you that it’s all a nightmare. But you’re there and, for a moment, your breath gets caught in the throat, a bundle of emotions that are finally finding their strength to come up and be heard.
You don’t want to be there.
You never thought that you’ll be there, looking down to a grave that it’s not supposed to exist.
But it’s there, you can’t make it up.
It’s there and you can’t ignore it, you can’t not see the letters that make up a name that you believed was destined to live forever. Or, at least, for much longer than that.
The autumn leaves are dancing around you, a warm breeze is trying to offer a comfort that it seems to be invisible and unpalpable. There can’t be comfort. There can’t be reassurance. The pain is still too loud, the wound is still too raw: your heart and your soul aren’t ready to accept that there is a reason for what has happened; your mind is still trying to distinguish between reality and fantasy, between the soothing effect of a false illusion and the harsh truth of a world deprived by its most beautiful voice.
“Why?” You wonder but there is only silence replying you and that lack of words is an absence that stings more than you can accept.
“Why?” You have wondered for too long but still nothing has come up and maybe it will never be answered because sometimes life is like that, a storm in the middle of a summer day and its lingering residues following you for weeks and months. Maybe one day you’ll stop asking yourself that but, for now, it’s just all you can think about, over and over again.
It doesn’t make sense.
Nothing makes sense and it has been like that since you’ve got that call, three words that had stumbled down your life and shattered it. You can still hear them in your ears, you can still feel the way your own heart had stopped beating as a black void had started to envelope you. You still feel like you’re down there, trapped into a nightmare that no one knows how to stop or break.
It doesn’t make sense.
There is regret in your steps. There is a baggage full of words that should have been said and things that you should have done. Maybe, if you have done them, nothing would ever happen.
Maybe, if you have said those words, he would be there. Not in a grave. Not buried deep down, his body slowly disappearing while his soul still filling the atmosphere around everyone who had met and loved him. No, he doesn’t belong there. He doesn’t belong to death, but life is like that: life is a joke perpetrated by someone bigger and much more powerful than your wishful thinking; life is a series of unfinished miracle, a series of how you wish for things to be different and for things to go your way.
But can it be life that cruel?
But how can you call it life when your most precious possession has been taken away from your world?
You wish you can go back in time. You wish there is a way for you to erase all those tiny mistakes you’ve made, all those times you wanted to reach out but, instead, turned your head away because it still hurt. Your friendship, your relationship was, is still, the most important thing and, yet, you’ve let it slip away in fear of what the world would have said. Your image is everything and, yet, what is left now? There’s no image to defend, there’s nothing left because his death has destroyed everything.
So you wish. You wonder and wish there was a way for you to save just one life.
There are still tears in your eyes. You want to believe it’s because of the cold and the wind but it’s just a useless alibi. You let them fall, not ashamed anymore because there is no one around to watch you. But you feel like a hypocrite, you feel like you don’t have the right to cry that loss because you could have done so much to prevent his absence.
To prevent his death.
You know it’s the truth, no matter how many times people keep telling you that you’ve done all you could. You know it’s the truth, no matter how many people try to explain how, sometimes, you can’t save someone that doesn’t want to be saved. Or help someone that doesn’t want to be helped. But you know, deep down, that it’s all a bunch of bullshit: he wanted to be saved. He wanted to be helped. He just didn’t know how to ask.
He just didn’t know that he could reach out and your hand was going to be there, rescuing him from a fall that no one had never foreseen.
You know it’s too late.
You know that it’s useless because he’s not there to hear that word.
Maybe he’s listening. Maybe he’s been watching you down from heaven, because that’s where he is now, that tortured soul hidden behind a smile and an endless laugh. You remember it. You remember that sound, how it went always directly to your heart and pulled strings that never hurt. You remember how his face would lighten up, bright eyes that shone like daily stars. You remember how that laugh made you feel better, especially those days when the world was so set in destroying your balance and sanity. You were addicted to his laugh, you craved it in ways that were so deep and powerful that, after a while, you stopped asking yourself what magic it held. You turned to him, you made him laugh over and over because you were selfish, you were in pain and only that sound could save you from the deepest and darkest waves.
But you didn’t notice. You didn’t even imagine what that laughter could hide behind its careless lightness.
You should have.
Regrets don’t leave you, not even now that you’re standing in front of the consequences of your ignorance. It’s your fault, you keep telling yourself as if this admission can absolve your sin. It’s your fault because you promised but it was always so easy to forget about it: there wasn’t never the need to, you have always been the one that needed help the most. You have always been the one fate had chosen to deal bad cards: your past, your family, those accusations and those children that you’ve never met.
And, God, he was always there. His comforting words, the way he was able to make him see that there was a reason for what was happening. They way he would come out and defending you, even when it meant to be the target of hateful attacks. They way he would just… be there in ways that were difficult to explain to the world that had never seen him in private.
Why didn’t you do the same for him?
Why didn’t you come out and defended him when all those voices wanted a piece of his soul? Why didn’t you come out and be there for him, not only when those cracks in his voice were so out for everyone to hear and judge? Why didn’t you let him know that those voices weren’t true? Why didn’t you let him know that he was the purest soul you’d ever met?
You let him run away. You let him hide and now there is no point in trying to find him. He played the game so well, he knew the rules even before you could accept them. You let him win but why does it feel like no one really won? Why does it feel like you both lost?
You are sorry. You could have done more. You could have told him more, all those times he was in a corner, trying to sound like he used to. You felt for him, you tried to understand how it must have felt to lose something so precious but... but he was always so happy, wasn’t he? He was always joking, bursting out in a song in the middle of an interview and while you would roll your eyes because it was getting tiring and annoying, your heart would always make a jump because it meant that things were back to normal, right? He was always smiling, happy to be on a stage that had sharpened up his life and your life. He never backed down. He never gave up and you just didn’t wonder if it was just an act.
You envied him. You looked up to him, you tried to discover that secret that made him so much happy, even when his world had turned upside down. You envied him because he was always there, inspiring people to never give up and never surrender because life is hard, oh if it’s tough, but you must be tougher than it. You wanted his strength, you wanted that endless faith that things would always get better, even under the most dime circumstances.
You should have known better.
You should have known that it was all an acting.
You should have known that his strength was slowly disappearing, erasing itself because it was too much exhausting keep fighting a battle that seemed pointless and useless. You should have known that he didn’t have faith anymore, didn’t believe anymore that he could be himself once again, rising like a phoenix.
You should have known better, but you didn’t. You didn’t want to face the truth. You didn’t want to realize that your superhero might be needing a hero himself and you were too afraid of not being up to the task.
You said you loved him. You still love him, even if now there is someone else sharing your life and your house. He was your first love. He was that love of your life that was impossible to forget, no matter how pain and hurt you both caused to each other. You still loved him even when he turned you down, claiming that it wasn’t right. He was lying, you know now. He was trying to protect you, shielding from a world that wasn’t ready for you as a couple.
He was so good at lying.
And you hated him. And you still loved him, in that twisted way that only great love can resolve into. His perfume was everywhere. His perfume is still everywhere, you can even smell it in this moment, enveloping you in an illusion that he might be by your side.
You hate him. And you love him, for all those reasons that would fill the endless sky. You loved him, you love him, because he was your superhero, even though he has never wore a cape; you loved him, you love him, because he was the one that took you under his wings, the one that took the duty to teach you about love and responsibilities, about caring that much for someone else that your life depended on it. You loved him, you love him, because he taught you things that you had only imagined and because being by his side meant to be at the center of a universe, you being the brightest star.
You loved him, you love him, because he was your brightest star. And you hated yourself, you hate yourself, for never telling him.
Anger now fills your heart, tears burning the skin as they slipped away in the silence. He was a fucking amazing liar and maybe it’s his fault if now you’re standing there, right in front of his grave. He should have called. He should have said that things were worse than what he had let shown. He could have said something, just a tiny complain and you would have stopped everything. Yes, you would have dropped everything because there was no chance in hell that he would give up or surrender.
Everyone depended on him.
You depended on him and now you’re lost.
You can’t imagine how it must have felt. You can’t imagine how lonely someone could get if they believed that they couldn’t call their best friends. Why did you leave him alone? Why didn’t you call, postponing those calls because you were just that busy with your life?
Anger turns into guilty. And regrets. Those regrets will never leave your side, demons and ghosts that will always remind you how you let him run away. He made you grow up. He made you a man and, yet, you just couldn’t be man enough to reach out and take him under your wings. You couldn’t defend him, not and especially from his own misery and hatred.
So you hate him. And you hate yourself because you left him alone when he needed you the most.
You left him feeling lonely, as if no one was caring about his troubles.
Alone and lonely as he must had felt in those last hours.
And if you would know how, you’re sure you would be able to save one life.
But it’s too late.