Happy Anniversary

~Tasmin Pepin-Perry

January 24th

Four days prior to my birthday your life was threatened

By a man, better yet a coward

Who took knife to flesh and ripped my heart open in the process

 

Four days prior to celebrating a milestone in my life

I had to learn how you were fighting for yours

That my gentle giant had been chopped down

Simply for doing what he always did best

 

February 2nd

Five days after believing that you would never go that easily

I had to accept that it wasn’t effortless

That your brain had died and your liver had failed

And we were the ones keeping you alive

 

Five days after I thanked God for seeing another year

I had to admit that you wouldn’t be

That flesh was the only thing that remained and you were no longer here

And I didn’t understand where that left me

 

February 5th

Three days after we all said our last goodbyes

We all said solemn hellos

Embracing family members we had never met

And joining the one club in the world we wish we could forget

 

Three days was all it took for you to go from being a flesh and blood man             

To a body made of ashes

No longer bone and skin

Just a metal urn that you are cased within

 

March 19th

Forty-six days later I stood in front of one your best friends

Openly bleeding and yet somehow breathing, inhaling and exhaling in and out, in and out

Sharing a look that said “I’m happy you’re here, but why couldn’t he be”

 

Forty-six days later and I watch disconnected from my body       

As we rejoiced in his life and I remembered yours

And at the mention of your name even though it was a wordless exchange

I can’t stop the tears that I start to cry

 

March 24th

Five days was all it took for me to grasp how senselessly your life was snatched

As I sat in front of the man who you gave your life for

Your friend, your family, an individual who questioned even more

Why, with all of his injuries, he was the one that survived

 

Five days and I experienced what pure heart break looks like

It is not a single person, not a single moment, but a culmination

Of days, and weeks, and months, and individuals who will forever be connected

Putting on a brave face each day trying hard to show how little we are affected

 

April 26th

Eighty-four days later and you would have turned 30

 

May 29th

Thirty-three days and my decision was made

As he put needle to flesh I no longer felt like I was bleeding from within

That the only place that I could carry you, was in my heart

Because I had chosen to make my reminder on my skin

 

Thirty-three days and as the words that I had permanently embedded on my body

Began to slowly heal, I was reminded that’s what it felt like to feel

That the pain would never fully go away and that there would be a scar 

But it would only serve to emphasize how loved you are

 

August 21st

Two hundred and one days and as I sit in the blazing sun and watch the woman

You once considered your little sister, take her vows

 I scan the crowd and look for the two men

You’d be standing between if you could be here now

 

Two hundred and one days and I am made aware by the two men sitting across from me

Just how empty life seems to be

And as one slowly slides into the seat next to me wrapping his arm around my shoulders

 I’m prompted to pull up the picture

That once upon a time displayed three men, two of which that are at this table with me, and one

You, that there used to be

 

September 24th

Thirty-four days later and we are all still mourning the loss of you

Gathered together in a place that for four years we called home

Reminiscing on those days and nights of hour long conversations that were so impromptu

And wondering how a lifetime gets shrunken into only just a few

 

Thirty-four days and as I watch the two best friends you left behind

I recognize their shallow breathing sorrowfully matches mine

That the tears that slowly trickle down their faces, are the mirror images

Of the ones that for months I shed in so many different places.

 

I will never get back those San Francisco days where the warmth you exuded

Made me feel like I belonged

Where your laugh was so contagious I found myself trying to bottle it up

And bring it along

And sometimes when it’s so late at night and I can’t sleep, I forget that

You’re no longer around to answer your phone and hear me speak

 

My demons are no longer external, but internal

And I fight to keep my head above water

But sometimes it seems better just to drown

And in those moments I look to the ink displayed across my wrist

Reminding myself of how much stronger I need to be now

 

That you, were put in my life to serve a purpose

And that your memory should never be thrown away as if it was worthless

Because your life has become mine

And those days that you can no longer live this is my vow

To laugh, love, explore, and honor life starting right now

Because honestly you always lived your life by your own design

And my wish, is that one day, hopefully not soon

We’ll be standing side by side

And  you’ll still be the exact same man that I knew

 

But for now I find myself passing time by counting the days

From the day that you died

Four, Five, Three, Forty-six, Eighty-four, Thirty-three, Two hundred and one, Thirty-four

And today 365

Which is why I continuously count my blessings, that I’m still alive

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