This Last Farewell
originally written in the summer of 2017
I was supposed to be in San Francisco today. I canceled my trip because the thought of being there while knowing you’re gone is unbearable. It’s our favorite city and where we first fell in love.
The scene of you performing Shakespeare’s Marc Antony for me upon the steps of San Francisco’s City Hall is still engrained in my mind — the moment when I knew you were something special. We laughed when we realized the homeless were giving you a standing ovation as well. You blew us all away with your talent and poise. I still have the photo I took of you on those steps from four years ago.
I first found out last night that you had been gone for two weeks. We were supposed to see each other in LA two weeks ago. I called you when I arrived in town. You didn’t pick up. “He must be busy”, I thought at the time and didn’t try again until I found your obituary online. It couldn’t be true. It must have been a mistake. What happened to you and what were you thinking?
I remember you calling me at work a week before my trip to LA. I told you I was too busy to talk and you should call me back later. I was cold and annoyed with you. That was the last time we talked, and that was the last thing I ever said to you. You had tried to call me the day you died. I didn’t pick up. What was it you wanted to say? I wonder what we would have talked about if I had answered. What were you thinking and feeling in your last moments?
I imagine you riding your Harley along the PCH, wearing your favorite brown leather jacket and the misty sea wind messing up your thick hair. Your hair was my favorite part — I would always admire and play with it, always goading you to grow it out even more. You grew a beard for me because you knew how much I liked it — you later kept it for yourself after you received enough compliments from other people. Your toothy smile would always make me laugh. Your cheesy jokes and over-the-top impressions were never dull even if I pretended to think so. When I’d tease you, you’d call me a cheeky bugger and ask me, “How’s your form?” (such an Australian thing). I was all too familiar with the spectrum of blue dress shirts that greeted me when I’d open the closet doors. You’d often bring my favorite one to wear when we went out. You looked so handsome every time.
I’d often wait for you to get off work so we could spend the little time we had together doing the things we loved — dining, laughing, exploring cities, talking till midnight, feeling each other, taking baths, cuddling, and watching movies while holding hands. I felt like I was always waiting on you. It seemed we’d never have enough time together. Those moments were so precious and powerful. Even when we fought, we fought with passion and forgiveness. Even when you were selfish and outrageous, you still could show me what unconditional love was like. I kept all of your handwritten letters, poems, and Valentine’s cards after things were over and I felt like I never wanted to talk to you again. I learned so much about what a relationship could be from you — the joy, the pain, the revival, the hope, and friendship. I thought we’d be in each other’s lives for many more years.
You were my best friend and best supporter when my California career move disintegrated before me. If you weren’t there for me and all the other times when my life would seem to fall apart, I would not be where I am today. Through all my relationship failures and mismatched jobs, you were consistently there cheering me up and cheering me on. You never stopped believing in me and being a champion in my corner. No one since has been as steady and welcoming as you. You embraced and accepted me for who I am.
I’m sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye and all the many things that would have made you feel loved and safe. I wish we could reminisce one more time about our favorite memories and places. I believe you were my soul mate and quite possibly the love of my life. You were beautiful, both inside and out — a stellar father, a dedicated brother, a loving son, and a sensitive lover. You were magnificent and bright — so full of talent, ambition, energy, ideas, optimism, wit, and generosity. Your heart was always full and always breaking in some way, but you never failed to put yourself aside for others in need or pain.
I will never forget you, James. You brought magic to my life and helped me believe in living. As you would always say to me when signing off, “For the rest of my life, I will always love you no matter what.” Back at you, Koala bear. You’ll be a part of me until my last day. See you on the other side.