Stop, and we start asking all the questions
Raising alarm, a symptom of the tension
Though we’re unarmed, we fumble through the trenches
Taking apart all that we invented
We have become alien
We played the part til comfort’s gone
Now the only language is loss
– Cary Brothers
My first best friend was a toy beagle. I received him as a Christmas present when I was about eight.
‘He was in the store and he had the saddest, cutest look on his face,’ The Mother said. ‘He looked lonely and there was only one of him. I thought he needed a home and that was why I bought him for you… He also reminded me a lot of you. He had your eyes.’
He was a beautifully made soft toy puppet and I remember afternoons I spent with him, talking about our childish dreams for the future. Every night, I fell asleep with him in my arms and woke up with him by my side. Over the years, his fur lost its gleam and the spot where I lay my head on his became bald. Still, I loved him with all my heart.
I can’t remember the day I finally packed him into a carton box where he now resides. I don’t even know when nor why I outgrew him but I never gave him away. I couldn’t. He was too precious to me.
Several years ago, a friend gave me a bunny named Beatrice. She was a gorgeous hand-made terrycloth doll that had the droopiest ears and the cuddliest form. It came at the perfect time. I was 29 and going through a difficult time in my life. Now I am not one to have many dolls. I dislike soft toys and the way they gather dust but Beatrice was different. She stayed in my bag and went with me everywhere I went.
At work, she sat on my lap while I conquered pages of Excel spreadsheets and Word documents. At night, she watched me while I poured my heart out on the laptop, writing words no one would ever read. She was the hug I needed when I felt lonely. She was the smile I needed when things got unbearable.
Eventually, I started going out more on production shoots and it was no longer feasible for me to tote her around while I stood out in the hot sun, ran around in the rain, battled camera equipment, props, wardrobe, lights and a demanding schedule. She found her way beside my beagle and stays there now.
Tonight, I remembered them.
As I did a friend who has grown distant over the past few months.
My dear friend was a soul mate. And like all soul mates, we shared our dreams, laughed at our similarities and found hope and comfort in our friendship. Knowing that there was someone out there strengthened our determination to make it through life’s gray landscape, in search of our personal rainbows.
Recently, I couldn’t find that friend everywhere I looked. It’s not that my friend no longer exists. We still write emails but with each word written, I feel the distance more tangibly than I ever believed I could. It came to a place where the words were finally useless – the very words that once drew us together.
It felt strange and I wondered, had I unconsciously packed our friendship into that box where my beagle and bunny now resided? I thought I was trying… thought I was still doing my part to reconnect with my friend but it was all alien. Our language was no longer a dependable medium of communication.
Smiley once asked me, ‘Do you believe that friends are for a season?’
‘Well, I think some friends are. They come into your life at a specific moment to give you support and be what you need. Then we both move on,’ I answered. ‘It’s not usually painful because both parties simply get on with our busy lives. But real friends? I think they are here to stay.’
‘Yes, that’s what I think too,’ Smiley said. ‘I have friends I made when I was really young and though we don’t contact each other all the time, we still make the effort to catch up. I think the idea that friends are for a season is bullshit.’
I agreed. I still have my secret keepers and we make attempts to constantly catch up. Sometimes, it’s with regularity and sometimes, it’s after a long silence. Sometimes, our conversations are casual and then there are those moments when we’re extremely close. It all depends on what we’re going through in our personal lives. The important thing is… we’re there for each other.
So what happened to my beagle, my bunny and my lost friend?
And why do I feel such a strange sense of loss tonight?
‘I do not want any one to read my book carelessly. I have suffered too much grief in setting down these memories. Six years have already passed since my friend went away from me… If I try to describe him here, it is to make sure that I shall not forget him. To forget a friend is sad. Not every one has had a friend. And if I forget him, I may become like the grown-ups who are no longer interested in anything but figures.’
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
My lost friend is special.
There are dreams found within that person, a depth of character and resilience that is uncommon and over the years, I’ve grown to both admire and respect the odd quirks. Even in the deepest of difficulties, I remember how my friend would search for truth in the anger and tears.
My friend could see beauty in the darkness and had an uncommon patience to wait out the storms.
When I turned ugly and withdrew into a season of solitude, I often returned to the friendship thinking that I’d get a reprimand or at least a chill in our communication but that friend was always there with a smile.
‘I’m sorry,’ I would sheepishly say.
‘It’s okay. It hurt but I understand,’ came the reply.
Today, I wonder… if I went back to that box in search for my lost friend, what would I say? And what would I hear in return?
‘Thanks for being there today,’ I said to the Dream Maker.
‘I’m always there,’ He replied.
‘Yes… You are. Why is that? Why don’t you turn away when I forget about You? If someone were to ignore me the way I do to You sometimes, I’d at least give them the cold shoulder for a while… but you never do that. Why?’ I needed to know. It felt very unfair for Him to be on the receiving end of my rants and emotional tirades.
‘Simple.’ He said. I looked up from what I was doing.
‘I don’t get You…’ I began to say, till I saw what He had on His palm. It was my name, inked permanently into His skin.
‘I made a promise once. A promise I will always keep. I’m here for You because I traded all I had… to win you with my love. Do you think it’d be that easy to turn Me away?’ He looked at me quizzically, as if He couldn’t fathom why I could doubt.
I traced my name in His palm and as I reached the end, He closed His fingers around mine.
‘I promised I won’t let You go. No matter how you try to shake me off, run away, hurl mean words… it won’t change a thing. I made a promise I’ll keep for eternity.’
We sat there for the longest time, holding hands, while I wept my silent tears.
I am not alone.