This morning I was awoken by the sound of shuffling papers. “I’m used to this noise,” I thought to myself. I smiled and tried to go back to sleep, but the shuffling continued. It was about 7:30 AM, and I just stared out my window hoping the noise would fade so I could get to sleep in just a little while longer. I realized that the noise was that of a newspaper that my grandfather, Diddy, was reading from. He likes to read the paper in the morning as he’s waiting for me to wake up. Or sometimes, it’s a magazine, and with the election coming up, it’s no surprise he’d be reading Newsweek or something similar.
Not annoyed, but wanting the noise to stop, I get up and go to greet him. And that’s when I stopped dead in my tracks and thought, “Mathieu, Diddy has been deceased for over seven years now.” Talk about a surreal experience. It turns out it was Pigu, my three-legged cat, who was chewing on an Ulta Beauty bag I left in the bathroom. But the noise triggered such a strong memory for me that I couldn’t help but smile. Thanks, Pigu!
Seven years and some change since the day that marvelous man who raised me passed away. Just a few entries ago, I was mentioning how I don’t think of my relatives who have passed on a regular basis; that I’m no longer in mourning of them being “gone.” Today felt different. I wasn’t sad when I was lucid enough to understand that the noises were just similar – an Ulta bag versus a newspaper – it could have been anything that precipitated a memory for me. I just smiled to myself, got back into bed trying to sleep, all the while, staring out my window. There was one tree in particular that stood out to me. It was as if all the other trees were completely unmoved but the one I had my eye on. I tried to see if I could hear it telling me something, anything.
I’ve heard of people getting up specifically to listen to trees. Not a crazy thought in my mind. You can learn and adapt so much from nature. When you’re not bombarded with e-mails and notifications and texts and can just enjoy silence, that’s when you really hear what the world is telling you. At least for me, that’s always been the case.
This morning was a perfect example of, “What is the world telling me to do?” Then, I thought more specifically, “What is Diddy telling me to do?” What would he think of me in this state? What advice would he give to me if he were here? He never had the pleasure of knowing me to be in love. He knew I was gay (Lord, who couldn’t tell I was gay when out the womb?), but he died when I was 22, long before I sucame to the idea of wanting a relationship or even being in a relationship. The longest relationship I’ve ever had was with my job at MAC Cosmetics. Nearly 9 years, and by the end, I was more than ready to venture elsewhere. I have never once regretted that choice. In fact, leaving helped me to reclaim my life. (No shade to those who currently work for that brand. This is my personal experience that I’m sharing, and obviously, everyone’s will be different).
While I’m aware that I’ll be waking up alone for some time now, it didn’t feel so lonely this morning. I actually had some relief by staring at the tree and watching the leaves fall. I have tried to think about my grandfather and what we would advise me to do in this situation, 1. With myself and how I’m feeling, and 2. With everything that’s happened between N and me. I honestly don’t know what he would say. That’s what frustrates me the most.
My grandfather was a wonderful man to me and to those he met through me. Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing him can tell you how funny he was and yet, how quick he was to anger (particularly if I annoyed him). Some of my friends even thought he and I should have our own comedy sketch where basically, I do something stupid, and he rips me a new one in a way that only Diddy can do. I have to agree that it would be quite hilarious! If I ever do stand-up, I will certainly do some Diddy skits. My imitation of him is pretty spot-on, and I have plenty of memories to choose from where he’s yelling at me.
It was through Diddy that I learned so much about being a decent human being. He taught me to be honest, to treat everyone with respect (unless they were blatantly disrespectful to me, which, even still if they are, I manage to show some semblance of respect to the best of my abilities), and to never be ashamed of how I feel. That last one is odd coming from a man I had seen cry maybe four times in my entire life. He allowed me, in fact, he encouraged me to let my feelings out. He wanted me to be the very person that I needed to be at that time. He didn’t try to change me to become somebody I wasn’t capable of becoming. I will always appreciate him for those qualities most.
The days before he died, he was bed-ridden at home. Hospice came over regularly to help him shave, take a shower, etcetera. I will never forget the day we had our “goodbye” talk. Looking back, it’s amazing that we were able to have that together. I, at 22, was able to convey to my grandfather, the very man I considered to be my father, how much he meant to me knowing I had to let him go. What we shared is very personal and not something I’m willing to go into at this point in time, but not many people get to actually say goodbye to a loved one before they pass. I am one of the lucky few who did.
There’s a tinge of jealousy I have over any of my friends who still have their parents particularly during big events, holidays and birthdays. It’s hard not to be a little envious of something I won’t have again in this lifetime. My dream after college was to move Diddy, Nevaeh (Moo, Kugi, however you know her as) and myself out to California where I would begin acting. Somehow, I would land the role of a lifetime in my first shot, and I would be nominated for an award (of course, I always hoped it would be the Oscars, but any award would do.) When they announced that I was the winner, I would get up on stage, peer out at the audience, and start my speech by looking into the eyes of the man who raised me. That was always number one on my bucket list. It’s still a dream I have even though things have shifted.
I hate goodbyes. For me, saying goodbye to somebody, even the word “goodbye,” sounds so final and ominous. If I ever say goodbye to somebody, it means something really bad took place for me to take it that far. It means I lost hope in somebody or something, sometimes myself, and felt that this was the only way for us to deal with this situation. I have only said goodbye a few times in my life, but each one embarked a significant change in outlook with myself and the person it involved.
With N, I told him goodbye in a letter because I felt like it was the best choice to be made at the time. It sounded final on paper, but there was still a glimmer of hope that one day, we would reach out to each other (more specifically, he would reach out to me as it was written on the final page). We would see where life had taken us and where life was going to take us. All today, I’ve stayed focused on work and running errands, not thinking too much about the situation. But as I was doing an expense report for work, I had to look up some receipts and found a slew of them which reminded me of our time together last month.
My heart felt like it dropped all over again. Even though I feel pretty at peace with things and am not holding any grudges, I’m still taken aback when I see these things that I’ve attached as a memory towards him. I was in the grocery store this morning, and I remembered when I cut the corner to the frozen food section when he was here. I was hiding the fact that I was crying because I was taking him to the airport in a few hours. When I saw the receipt for our trip to Orlando, I remember how excited he was to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and all the pictures we took together that day. I saw a receipt for the cabin I rented for us in the Smoky Mountains; the place I felt we made some of our best memories during our time here. Hell, I even saw on my Amazon list this evening one of the items I was going to purchase for him lingering (the Priscilla, Queen of the Desert BluRay) , and it reminded me of the live production we saw of it in Maine!
Almost everywhere I turn, I have a memory that brings me back to a time when I felt so unbelievably happy. I am reminded of a kinder time when fate was on my side, despite N’s and my many ups and downs throughout his time here. I guess it’s true what they say about your first love: you never forget them. I will always hold a place in my heart and my mind (so long as it’s not lost) for N and the special relationship we shared. In a way, talking about him like this helps me realize that he’s not a bad person. He’s somebody I still care for and hope is doing well. I hope one day he realizes just how much I do care for him despite everything that’s happened; that everything I planned for our trip had him in mind. I’ve never done something like that for anyone before, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. No regrets.
More than anything, I just wonder what Diddy would do. What words of wisdom would he share? I wish I could have just one hour with him to catch him up on everything. Truthfully, one hour wouldn’t even begin to be enough time. The best I can do is sit in silence and try to hear his voice through nature. I might luck out and have a dream of him. Sometimes, he still gives me advice in dreams, and they’re never the wrong choice to make. I can’t believe it’s been seven years since I’ve talked to that man.
Those of you reading this who still have your mother or father, grandparents or siblings, aunts or uncles, a friend perhaps or maybe even your first love… whomever is of great importance to you, let them know. No matter how much time it’s been between talks. No matter how you left things. Remember, we aren’t promised tomorrow. We’re lucky enough to have this very moment. If you love somebody, you tell them, right then and there. Otherwise, the moment just passes you by.