I convince myself time again that there is still something of you in the smell of your unworn clothes. I do it as much as I convince myself otherwise. I pull them out of the Woolies green bag which kept the scent of you safe from corruption for a good year until time began to wane on the particles. It was incredible how long I got to keep a piece of your material presence around like that… but all good things fade –well, sometimes they don’t. Fading leaves the sweeter of bitter aftertastes. It offers time for us to process our pain, our loss before it’s completely gone, so we can appreciate it with the awareness that its existence is evermore ephemeral with each breath we live. Things either fade or they career abruptly and uncontrollably towards a screeching, chilling, blindsiding halt. Grief is a mental car crash. I went flying through that icy air after you left; after my body had shattered the windscreen upon discovery. I slammed into the metaphorical asphalt at eighty kilometres an hour, limp and agonised but living in wake of you dying. And you died because you were tired of how it hurt to live. Because living can feel like dying anyway.
I felt like I was in a film where that scene kept being rewound, paused at different parts and replayed from a random time before jumping to another part after an indeterminate length of footage; the worst was hitting that hard-set tar.
Thank goodness it got easier, but my grief only faded to the point where I am a moderately functioning human again. I actually think two years has felt worse than the one year mark because leading up to it (about three months or more leading up to it) I have missed you intolerably—no. That’s not the right word. I will always tolerate missing you. I will always tolerate this grief. Because as that Death Cab for Cutie song -which Jolie and I totally bonded over but I know was never your thing- said, “I knew that you were a truth I would rather lose than to have never lain beside at all”. Despite the fact that DCFC probably shouldn’t have left 2010, I still like that song and I think of those words a lot. I miss you incorrigibly. Maybe that’s the word I need. Because it’s come to a point now where it doesn’t shift or numb—it’s just there.
And I’m there, picking up debris.
When I’m not telling myself to stop imagining that there’s still some small part of you in your clothes, I’m insisting that there is; that your clothes don’t just smell like any unworn clothes, they smell like yours. How strange I would look if anyone saw this battle I have with myself, stuffing my face in your shirts and inhaling them so fervently my nose might vacuum them up. I’m only hoping to one day confirm it for myself totally but then what? Back in the bag they go? In any near belief I gain, the priority has been preservation, so I can pick them up again one by one, in two months’ time and go through the same doubtful/assured sniff-fest again.
Today, I pulled out your Ralph Lauren dress shirt that came from the op-shop, so typically. I brought it to my nose and did believe I could detect something of you there— but I put it on anyway. Clothes are after all, made to be worn.
I spent today celebrating you. I celebrated t-shirt bras and Harvey Birdman, beanies and Puckle St. I ate dessert for lunch. I went to our old favourite op-shop and that Smiths song that used to be on one of your playlists came over the speakers. It’s too much of a coincidence that at least one song that you love plays every time I visit. I know you join me there. I often don’t realise I’m talking to you aloud until someone gives me a look.
I got a tattoo after that, of your pretzel signature. I went to the art gallery at RMIT and dreamt, like you, of studying there. Then I went to Coles and bought some of your favourite snacks. They don’t make chocolate wheatens anymore so I got the McVitie’s digestive biscuits instead. I know you’d indignantly refuse those as a substitute if you had’ve lived in today’s sans-wheaten world but mate, they taste the fucking same and with the packaging removed, I just imagine they are the real thing. By the way, how did you eat like half a pack of those per day along with at least one V and have such a flawless complexion, what the fuck. Like, who gave you that gene, Aphrodite??
Well anyway, I did everything I wanted to do for you and myself today, rounding it off with this millionth note to you whilst listening to AFI and eating lime and black pepper chips. Your shirt still smells like you after I wore it and had it in my bag, even. When I left the house today I was anxious. I realised that comes from home being neutral and leaving being where you risk having a bad day instead of a nothing day. But outside is also where good days are born and today was good. I love you. That’s another thing that will never fade.
your little babe.
PS. If you’ve got special powers now, can you magic my skin into being as milky-perfect and pimple-free as yours was? It can be my birthday present. Ta ❤️