"Adversity draws men together and produces beauty and harmony in life's relationships, just as the cold of winter produces ice-flowers on the window-panes, which vanish with the warmth."
Lately, a few people who knew John well, but who - until recently - didn't know me quite as well, have commented that my writing style reminds them of John's, or that my style of talking reminds them of John (must be my deep, rich baritone voice, y'know).
Last week, his sister mentioned in an email (with regard to reading my posts here), “I could read his words over and over and over and never be bored because there was a new meaning to me every time I read them. Yours are the same way.” His best friend Timothy and I talk on the phone regularly (I have to quit calling him that because really, he’s become one of my best friends). Timothy has often commented, “Shit, you know, I feel like I’m talking to John, but with a female voice. I don’t know anyone else I can talk to like that. I could just say anything to him, and I do the same with you, and it’s like it’s no big deal.” (T-man, ya think anything would hold any shock value for me after nine years with Brudda J?!)
Really, I take it all as high praise, but it's had me ruminating. To me, it's not such a great surprise. After all, John’s printed words were what drew me to him, before I'd even seen a picture of his face. (John and I met online in 1998, and from the very first email from him, I was captivated. Evidently, he felt the same way about the things that I wrote.) I'd read his ramblings and think, "Wow, who is this guy?!" Our early correspondence could easily be a novel - we were both good with turning a phrase, witty humor, and expounding on ideas and thoughts in a fairly verbose manner.
In living together, as with any long-term couple, our speech patterns often mimicked each other without us even being conscious of it. However, we did have a unique way of bantering with each other when alone – we were both big on wordplay, both having rampant, and completely irreverant senses of humor. Anyone listening in would have thought we were mutually deranged - I’m not saying that’s untrue, mind you… *grin* We’d say words backwards, sideways and “malaprop” pretty much anything we got our tongues on. (Hey, it’s only kinky the first time.)
Even when we weren’t being silly, when we’d have serious discussions… we’d talk for hours about life, the universe and everything. Truly, beyond everything else we shared, John was the best friend I’ve ever had. Spending that much time together, being the intelligent people we both are, it’s only natural that we’d sort of combine styles.
I think part of it, too, is that, for the past nine years, these are people who knew John better than they knew me. Now they’re getting to know me - seeing into my essential self, as John would say - and realizing just what it was that John always saw. I’m ashamed to say, that as much as he constantly amazed me, I did take for granted the uniqueness of our relationship, and the depth of what we shared. Really, we were the perfect yin and yang as a couple – John was the ground, I’m the sky. Even our colors reflected that. His colors were greens and browns and black, while mine are blues and grays. His eyes were the deep brown loamy color of a freshly plowed field; mine are the blue of a clear Spring sky. I’ve only recently begun to discover the real wealth of what we had together. Part of that has come from seeing John, seeing how John saw me, and seeing our relationship, through the eyes of others.
To say the least, I still very much feel his spirit around me. It goes without saying that I carry him in my heart, and always will. So, often when I'm writing, it is his voice in my head that's flying out through my fingers. Or his voice that I hear, as he looks over my shoulder, saying, "You tell 'em, Barbarienne! Give ‘em hell!" If I’m doing some kind of artwork, I often sense his spirit nearby, tangibly so, and can nearly hear him whisper, “Pretty, Hunny…” No question about it, I've been channeling the man in everything I do lately. I owe him that much, at least. I owe it to him to keep his beautiful spirit shining. Knowing him, being privy to the wisdom he possessed, changed my life in ways I can't begin to describe - not yet. Leading him through the valley, hard as it was, was a precious gift. Someone recently said to me, "Hell of a way to find out what you're made of." Oh yeah. But a gift, nevertheless. More than that, it was my honor. It is my greater honor to carry on.
"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."
Live and love…