My Own Angel

February 16, 2011

I sometimes like to look up at my ceiling and say that. 'Hello'. A pleasant salutation, I think. Yes, a very fine salutation indeed. 'Hello'. 'Hello'.

So much better than ‘goodbye’.

Fourteen years of weathering school changes and changes in state, breaking households and parents cheating on parents, rocky divorces and strange new cultures, and I thought I'd seen it all. Now, I scoff at myself; how could I be so naive? If the younger me was to be here, standing by my bed, and listen to me speak of the things I'd seen since then, they would probably either break down into tears or choke on a sentence lodged in their throat.

And me? I'll just say 'hello'.

But, of course, I don’t just say ‘hello’ to nobody like some strange ceiling-hugger. There’s no blank face on my ceiling smiling down at me through a curtain of propaganda. There’s only the thing above the ceiling, above my rooftop, above the clouds, and beyond the stars; a heaven I hope there is beyond all space and time.

Because there, he is waiting. There, he should be recovering quite nicely from what took him. There, he should be happy.

Despite his absence, he’s better than a pin-up.

I went to school with him since the youthful years of post-middle school, back when drama was raw and left marks on you when you got home. Since then I’ve matured, but I’m guessing it’s because reality’s bashed me to the point of which I can’t seem to stand up without being clocked again. And again. And why does reality kick me for good measure?

Anyway, we went to school together. We met on the night of a strange bonfire where everybody was just discovering themselves. It was quite like a pagan ritual; while most people gathered around the fire and hailed soccer players I followed him off the premises and into the shadow of darkness, where we platonically walked and talked. For once, someone was actually interested in me; and I, in him. He thought I was weird, but he thought it was the good kind of weird, and didn’t pin me as ‘psycho’, my usual honorific, and just walk away. He stuck around to see what kind of magic trick I’d pull, and be genuinely interested in it.

Over time he accumulated friends and a reputation, as all new kids do, but he always made time for me, be it at lunch or just a brief hug before school ended. He made time for me and I was happy with it; seeing him once a day, just the two of us, was all I needed.

Friendships evolve, and ours was no different. He had gathered a friend who was close to me and the friend and I made the trek to his house loaded down with video games and the ambition to have fun. We arrived at his doorstep unhindered by nature, like it was supposed to be, and came in. His lovely mother led us to him, and we played videogames for two hours before the friend and I had to head home. It was wonderful; I learned something new and discovered I wasn’t quite the warmonger my friends wished I could be.

That was when I learned he was sick.

Do you know of that inexplicable panic that rises in one’s stomach when they realise that something’s wrong and something’s out of place? That things will only deteriorate and you can’t do anything to fix them? I felt that panic. Terror gripped my gut and I reeled when I knew exactly what was ailing him.

My goodness.

Would he get better? Optimism, never failing, pushed me to my feet like a proud coach or a soccer mom. “Yeah, he’ll be fine! He’ll bounce back, you’ll see!” it cried cheerfully into my ear, and I felt rejuvenated, felt great, felt fine. He’d be fine. We’d all be fine.

Then he stopped showing up to school as often.

Not doing homework.

Going home early.

Stopped showing up at all.

Since then his name was only a whisper. He visited on occasion, but they were just that; visits; and he wouldn’t stay for long. Slowly, during the hours of school and life, people began to forget him. His name was no longer readily on their lips and his image seemed to wither with him as he faded out of our periphery; out of our minds.

I think I was crying out at some point, but it’s a blur and I can’t remember.

At times, that friend and I, the two that played videogames with him, would drop surprise visits during lunch; bring him pizza and talk about sports. At least, our chaperone and my friend would talk and eat. I would do neither, sitting there like a catatonic child, focusing on my breathing and the ticking of the clock and trying my hardest to squeeze the image of him in pain out of my mind.

I so regret not telling him I loved him before I left; and that he was my angel.

Because after that day, I never saw him again.

When we were told of what happened to him, how he passed, we wept. We, mature, cold-as-ice, disobedient teenagers, were reverted back to children as we wept on each other’s shoulders and vowed never-endingly and unfailingly to remember him, to know that he was always with us. The day was a blur of tears and sympathetic teachers and touches that might as well have not been there at all.

I suppose, it being a while later, staring up at my ceiling would seem commonplace. The night as fallen a thousand hours from the night that carried my pain, but carried away the suffering of an angel. Life has since then moved at a blinding pace and sometimes I have to look back to see him because he’s not in front of me anymore. I won’t forget him, I won’t ever misplace him, and his name is on my wall, written in pencil, and the date of his leaving is underneath it.

I don’t think of it as the day of his leaving. I think of it as the day of the end of his suffering and constant pain. I remind myself that it may be better this way.

I wrote poems for him, sonnets, ballads, anything to describe what I soon realised that words could not touch. He was divine now. He was a real angel now. And I miss my angel.

And so, I lay on my bed every night, staring at the ceiling, feeling words collide and crash in my head like a tumultuous avalanche. My ears are numb just trying to hear his echoes, and my eyes are weary and haggard from trying to spot his face in the stars. But my smile is ever-beaming, going on, as I mutter the one sentence that can touch him, that will touch him, floating out the atmosphere like a shooting star.

Hello, my angel.

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