My Heart Breaks

drawing of author and her friend Joseph who helped her to feel less aloneLast week, I realized that I draw myself as being alone when I work on my drawings for my blog posts. I don’t do that all of the time, but I draw only me most of the time. I found that intriguing, and I wondered why. I think it is because I felt alone, even though I wasn’t alone. That is one of my failings, not looking at and appreciating the people in my life. I feel alone, but I am never alone.

When I lost someone who was always there for me, it reminded me of the simple fact of feeling alone but never being alone. My friend was always there for me while I struggled to escape an abusive home environment all of those years ago. My forever friend Joseph Prisco succumbed to complications from COVID-19 this past Saturday. My heart has broken.

Joseph was one of those friends around me who supported me and helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Joseph’s light shined so brightly even on those days that I felt so alone; his light made sure that I wasn’t alone. His light kept mine going. On days that it most likely would have flickered out, he kept me going. I never stood alone.

An Amazing Friend

Today’s post is not what I planned because it is about my wonderful friend, Joseph. And about the lesson that I can only guess that the universe needed to teach me by taking away one of the brightest lights in my world. And, as is typical for me, it is hard for me to share my pain. I am not good at talking about my pain, let alone admitting that I am in pain.  

Joseph and I had not spoken in many years, not for any particular reason, simply the divergent paths in life. It didn’t matter that we hadn’t spoken in many years; I still felt his presence in my world all the time. I had meant to reach out to him, to reconnect with him. I knew he was in the hospital for foot surgery, and I thought, ‘I will reach out when he gets out of the hospital.’ Why I felt that I don’t know, I guess I didn’t want to bother him while he was dealing with health stuff.

When the pain and the reality set in that my friend is gone, the bawling started. Amid my bawling, my husband asked me to tell him about Joseph. He had never had the opportunity to meet him. At that moment, I couldn’t say anything. It was too raw, too soon, and all my brain could do was try to rein in the devastation that I felt.

Never Alone

I met Joseph in 1992 or early 1993 or thereabouts. I honestly don’t recall how we met, but he and I became quick friends. He made you feel unique and exceptional, even when you didn’t feel that way. He gave the best hugs. I can still feel his hugs, even though it has been quite a while since I got to enjoy one of his amazing hugs.

It was more than his amazing hugs. It was how he made people feel about themselves. He made everyone feel unique and memorable, and meaningful. And it wasn’t that he was trying to do that. It was just because that’s who he was. He was genuine with his love and affection. With that, he taught me what it felt like to be loved and supported.

More recently, Joseph gave me the strength to write about my challenges with mental health. He was very open with writing about his challenges, specifically the frustrating medications roulette game. He gave me so much strength to keep writing and keep trying to get myself to a healthier place.

Always There

He was always there, always available for me when I needed a place to go to be around someone who loved me, who cared about me. He was all of those things and many more. I have been thinking for days about describing what he meant to me, and I feel like everything I come up with pales in who he was, and I think, still is.

On rough days, like the last couple of days, I still close my eyes and imagine him hugging me. I may feel alone, but I never am alone, not when I can recall his hugs. I never told him how much light he had brought to my life. I wish I had told him how much he meant to me while I still could.

The Universe’s Lesson

I won’t have the chance to tell him how much he meant to me. I lost the opportunity to reconnect with him and tell him those things. And that is the lesson that I think the universe is trying to say to me. We have no idea when our time will come. His time came way too soon, that I know, but I should not have waited.

And that is the annoying lesson that the universe felt the need to teach me by taking away my friend. At least, I think that is the lesson that I am supposed to learn. That lesson is procrastinating, no matter what reasons you tell yourself, means you lose a moment in time that you can’t get back. And in times like this, I have lost an opportunity to tell someone that I love him one more time, which would have been the last time.

I think I also needed to learn that I am not alone. All of the pieces of thoughts I have over the last week have led me to that realization. And yes, I know I am not alone, I know that, but for many years, for survival, I had to tell myself that I was alone. I was the only one who could get through the things that I needed to get through. But I could not have done any of the things that I have done without my people around me. And it started with Joseph.    

Remembering Joseph All Ways

Earlier last week, I listened to the WTF with Marc Marron podcast, episode 1198. In that episode, Marc is interviewing Mandy Patinkin. Mandy was talking about how as long as someone remembers you, you will never die. I think of that now, and I know that my friend Joseph will live forever because all of those who knew him, no matter how long or how much time they spent with him, we will always remember him.

picture of my friend joseph prisco who passed away I also believe that when people’s physical bodies stop working, all of that life energy has to go somewhere else. Nothing can destroy our energy life force.  Our life energy only changes the vessel. Even though my heart is broken, I believe he is still with us. And therefore, my gregarious, light-filled friend, Joseph, you shall never die. Not really. Your energy is out there, floating around, having a grand old time. I love you, my friend.

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