I’m playing video games after a long weekend. I get a panicked call from her partner asking if I’ve seen her. I think to myself how people can get so worked up. Ainslie is bright and strong, this is probably an overreaction.
The next call is from her stepfather asking if I’ll check for her car and bike. I hear her mother in the background. They are able to ping her cell phone at the police station. Her car is here but her bike is gone. He’ll keep me posted.
I walk through her room, fear begins to set in, is there someone downstairs hiding in the shadows? I move through her still and empty space.
The next call is from a man in shock. Ainslie didn’t make it.
Now I am in shock.
I start to make the calls. Each connection is followed by waves of grief. From here on out each person I talk to or embrace opens us both up. Later I realize that my beloved friend has been shattered and her shards are embedded in us all. We meet each other and a little unique facet of her.
We gather and grieve, into the hole. Remember to eat and drink. Remember to breathe.
Time becomes weird.
The next evening we build an altar on a yoga mat for her at the weekly yoga class. A woman brings a ritual, a droning song and drum beats, we fill the space with ourselves.
I lay on my side and wailed as I’d never done before. I’ve never felt a loss like this.
I walk home along the bike route she took to the intersection that has rattled my bones and filled me with ire for as long as I’ve ridden the route myself.
In the dark night, a turning car aggressively yeilds at me in the spot where my friend died. The smog etching wretch wrapping around this entitled driver who won’t give me an inch. I want to bash the windows in. I want to scoop up the roads and cars and crush them in my teeth, vomit the black snake into the fresh earth and let its death light a billion fires in every oil well and corporate board room.
She’s in my head now, we laugh at the absurdity of it all. She invites me to feel compassion. To forgive.
I go home to her empty house where I live upstairs. I draw a bath and wash my clothes. The machine rattles like a ghost stomping around downstairs. She haunts me in her kind and gentle way.
Sleep eventually comes and I wake up the next morning to hurry over to the sanctuary I’ve created in this old church. I pass the scene of her death as I will a thousand times more.
I cry at the altar.
I see her partner and family for the first time in this new reality. We embrace and cry on the steps of this old building like so many must have done before. This building that has stood here for a century on land that has soaked up so many tears and will so for as long as we grieve.
We walk the building and discuss logistics.
They leave me here alone with her memory.