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I have always been a giver, warm and loving. Even as a child I never cried, seeking to make others happy. Often people sought me in times of trouble and I gave all I had - my whole heart and showered love upon them. By age nine adults leant on me, told me of their woes and I was their spark of light. Yet when my time to suffer came, when my world was a hurricane of ice, every light but one switched off. All but one offered a skinny love, shallow and brief, before finding a reason to excuse their flight. But maybe that's the way it had to be, one light to follow, no choice but to walk toward love and truth. Perhaps the road toward heaven feels like hell. Because I can tell you I never felt more empty in mind, body or soul, never so bereft of any comfort. I have never felt so worthless or disposable, never so wretched and cold. For hours I would have no emotion, only an urge to move fast; then all at once I'd be on the floor, shaking with a grief that bled from my bones. Days became weeks and months, and in every single moment of every single day my soul asked God why I must still live. He said, "Because I love you, daughter, and you will do great things. So live, breathe, walk." Moments of emptiness still come like an ambush, yet in company of a true friend a real smile can return, a real laugh, real warmth. I can't give much yet, I'm still too empty, but at least now I know who to give it to. I know who is safe.
I will be the loudest "cry-baby" in the world. I will scream in the hopes that over time more people will choose compassion over indifference, that they will learn to walk a stoned path if it means saving another from far worse.
Let it all out
These are the things I can do without
I'm talking to you
Song "Shout," sung by Tears for Fears, Lyric by Ian Stanley, Roland Orzabal
The halloween sun isn't fully set and already the candy wrappers blow over the leaf-strewn sidewalk. Tonight I am a ghost, concealed and shrouded like the dead I pretend to be. Around each wrist hangs a chain to clank as we walk. With the sun so low in the sky the scene reminds me of years ago, the picture before me is almost sepia toned. Only the new-model cars give it away that this isn't nineteen seventy something. Next to me walks the most important vampire in the world, seven years old and she wears the false fangs like a pro. She's a strange one though, for her it isn't even about the chocolates and lollipops. Tonight the world is her stage and she feeds on the drama through her skin. She doesn't really walk either, she stalks, head high, chin out, arms moving like she's conducting the clouds above.
After so long without it I am surprised by the warmth in the sun's rays. No longer does it leach my heat but instead it gives to me. Once more my breaths are quite invisible and the birds are more active in the sky. Still cloud lingers but today it is not a dense layer of grey but instead a chaotic array of white puffy shapes amid the blue. I stretch out my hands and tilt my face upward. This sun is not enough to burn - even for me - and whilst it has the first lick of summer about it I put that out of my mind. Savouring the moment is important, tomorrow isn't guaranteed to anyone, not even me.
To the friends I have loved and lost,
Friendship is a form of love and I always love in full measure. If I call you friend, I am saying I love you. Love means taking the good times and the hard times. It means standing by the other in times of heartbreak, easing their pain, seeing them for the human being that they are. If bearing witness to their losses and grief is all you can offer, then you offer and hold your own discomfort as a marker of your own good character. All true love requires sacrifice of the self to be real. How else do we show that our friendship is more than words? Love requires action.
To love a friend means that in their stormy seas you would not only climb into their boat just to be with them, but that you would become the boat, keep their head above the water. When my time came to drown you left me, knowing that there were times I felt my own body to be a cage, that I struggled to live and breathe. As such you magnified my pain and I came to feel worthless. I would have run through fire for any one of you at just one request, one asking. I loved you with all my heart, soul and being. The love that is friendship is accepting, compassionate, unconditional, without judgement and eternal. It accepts that people make errors and forgives, it endures. Yet there comes a time to protect the self, end the hurting. I wish you plain sailing; I wish you love and good health; I wish you true happiness for your lifetimes. You leave with a kiss.
Though I have been through hell, there was one who rode with me all the way, another who came whenever called, and two who would have gladly come and stayed. That's four. Four true friends. I guess I am luckier than most because that's real love and I love them back will all my heart, like I always did, like I loved you too.
"If you personify love even in times of trouble, of hardship or war, then you are truly one of the mighty. I see how no matter the stresses laid upon you, that you show more grace than many do in times of plenty. It is in those moments of pain and fear I see right to your soul and know that my faith in you, my love for you, is eternal.You are brave, kind, always giving of yourself. I want you to know that I will be the same for you; I will be your mirror, bring you what you give others - true love, the lasting kind."
Baked cookies tumble over the plate, a smattering of crumbs in the sunlit sheen. Rosie digs out the mesh covering an places it over the top. Their buttery flavour will be all the better for knowing that the summer blue-bottles haven't dined first. Unlike their store bought counterparts they are irregular in shape and size, still mostly round but with enough imperfections to be perfect. Leon mixed the batter by hand and shaped each one on the parchment, and for that they will taste all the sweeter.
Despite the crispness of the suit and the perfect tailoring the man inside wasn't far out of high-school. Against his smooth brown skin his black hair moved in the spring breeze. It was cold enough for some to be in winter jackets still, but he made no motion to suggest he even felt it. On his feet were shiny black shoes that Freddy couldn't imagine the guy polishing himself. At his side was a case in fine brown leather. So this was the guy he had to befriend and betray. Not hard. Kids like that were always lonely and bored, just had to find the right angle. And as for the betrayal part, he didn't see a problem with that. He hated him already.
"Just gonna stand there and watch me burn,
But that’s all right because I like the way it hurts"
- Rihanna, "Love the way you lie, part II)
In my life I have been the sunshine, giving of warmth and light, giving of my love without reserve. Yet there came a time when the pain within overwhelmed and only tears came, when my body itself refused to live, began to say "no." Food would not pass my lips and sleep was fleeting. On little to no sustenance and a mind tired, I searched for help from those I loved.
For any friend in pain I have always run toward them, helped as much as possible. Yet in my time of greatest need I lost near everyone I ever loved - family and friends who meant just as much. Some asked questions that drained me and I thought at last help had arrived. I bled emotionally, shaking at times, but almost all decided I wasn't behaving as they thought I should and walked away.
Abandonment is a betrayal. It is a burning of the soul. It is a dusty hot road on which the mind and body wither. I had lost the one I had loved the most in the world, the one who had kept me stable over more than half my life-time. Yet friends criticized, justifying my abandonment with their own discomfort, and encouraged others to do the same. That was the start of what became a "life armageddon" - the near total loss of everyone I had ever loved. It was never an exciting blank page, a fresh start, or a choice, but more akin to being naked in a blizzard.
At such times the soul itself will cry. "When I am so cold, who will offer a blanket? When I bleed, who will give first aid? When I am lonely, who will sit by me? When my world is darkness, who will be a light? When my trust is shattered, who will take the time to earn it back, knowing that I can no longer simply give?" I now know the answer to those questions and the pain of finding out was a torture, a personal hell.
"If you are struggling and your people are just watching you struggle, they aren't your people." - Anon
From the depths of hell came a firebird, her songs not of flame but love. And in the early morning light, beneath a rising sun, she raised her head to sing - the melody a salve. Though clear and true not all could hear and, though she sung to unlock their hearts, the love died cold at their feet and turned to ash. For the rest it was a song of salvation, of the power of love and eternal redemption.
Arc let his eyes fall to the cracking concrete, "Love, if the pen is mightier than the sword then the internet is an atom bomb. If ideas cannot be destroyed then what we write can be enough to ignite the globe. I want nothing more than to take a fire started thousands of years ago and nurse it until it has become what it was always destined to be. This isn't just a call to arms, it's the only one that will ever matter."