It was an “I’ve never…” I’d never thought of. You know, that game, where you, erm, hydrate with “I’ve never…” every statement that you’ve actually done.
“I’ve never been to Europe.” Well, I have. Sip.
“I’ve never danced on a table.” I actually haven’t. I’m way too clumsy for that. So, no sip.
“I’ve never known anyone who was murdered.”
Until tonight, I wouldn’t have taken a drink. Tonight, though, I raise my glass to someone I haven’t seen – or really even thought of – in almost ten years.
And now I can’t think of anything else.
It’s funny, the things you remember when people are gone. Two conversations stick out in my mind, and I can’t actually remember any others. I know there must have been more, but they’ve faded over the years, the short time we knew each other dulled by the decade since we last met. But what I remember makes me laugh.
And maybe I shouldn’t laugh. Her loss is massive. It’s felt by so many and for so many reasons. But maybe that’s the best reason to laugh. To remember the being instead of seeing just the end.
So tonight, I’m thinking about nipple shields, wardrobe malfunctions, and one of the first lessons I gave to a rapt audience of students. Of course, these were university students, we were sitting in a university residence, and I was years away from even thinking about teaching, but still, I taught.
I taught someone who would later go on to do the same thing for others. The teaching bit, at least. I’m doubtful that nipple shields worked their way into anything. I hope not, anyway. I at least had Janet Jackson’s infamous starburst to explain, something that had faded from memory almost as much as this old acquaintance had.
But tonight, starbursts and shock are all I’m seeing. The explosion of something so positive, with such far-reaching rays of brightness, now burned out. Gone. And I’m shocked.
Though perhaps not as shocked as she was by my detailed and anatomic explanation of nipple shields.
So tonight, I end by asking one last question: “I’ve never left an impression on someone without either of us knowing it.”
And I won’t take a sip.
I hope you don’t either.
But I do hope you’ll join me in raising a glass to memories and toasting life – as much or as little time as we get with it.