a rooftop, a t-shirt, a glass of champagne, and birthdays that never happened
I’m sitting on a rooftop in a gray Trail Blazers t-shirt, with a friend across from me and a glass of champagne. Will’s 38th birthday would have been tomorrow and somehow all of this has led me here.
The Trail Blazers give me several new sets of clothing each year. I typically go through it, pick out what I want to wear for the season and find homes for the rest of the gear. Sometimes it ends up with a family in need from Portland and sometimes it ends up in a village in Africa.
The gray t-shirt was my favorite. I wore it all the time. Will had been placed on hospice after battling cancer for less than a year. He had curried the strength to make it to a clinic in Arizona where he and my sister Angie continued to fight for his life. His clothes didn’t fit anymore and he needed a t-shirt. I gave him mine. He wore it all the time.
I secretly hoped to get it back one day because I loved it. When I got it back, after his death, it was the last thing I wanted back. Even now, I often just let it sit in my drawer because it brings up too much pain to want to wear it. Mostly the pain of selfishness, of wanting it back. I wish I had never gotten it back. Today seemed like a good day to wear it again.
I’m sitting on a rooftop in Will’s gray Trail Blazers t-shirt, with a friend across from me and a glass of champagne. Will’s 38th birthday would have been tomorrow and somehow all of this has led me here.
Across from me, sits my friend Andrea, widowed at age 25.
I knew of her. I knew her family. I knew her husband BJ. I knew a bit of her story but I didn’t know her.
I was leading a team to Africa and she was interested in being a part of it. She didn’t know me. But she knew of me. And she knew a bit of my story. We met, had coffee, and talked about life and about death and about what the trip to Africa would look like if she decided to come.
We became dear friends. I don’t want to ever say I ‘understand’ what a widow has gone through because I don’t and I never will. But I do understand that it’s ok to listen and not have answers. It’s ok to sit, be present, and not talk. It’s ok to say I’m praying for you even if prayer has failed them over and over. It’s ok to say I love you even if they can’t say anything back. I learned all of that from Will. Or I guess, because of Will.
I’m sitting on Andrea’s rooftop while she wears BJ’s blue hoodie and I wear Will’s gray Trail Blazers t-shirt, with a glass of champagne that was leftover from the last time Andrea and I sat on the rooftop. BJ’s 34th birthday would have been next week. Will’s 38th birthday would have been tomorrow and somehow all of this has led us here.