Anastacia Campbell at Six Flags

repeats yearly

Lost Stacy

I don’t remember setting this reminder.

Was I worried that this date would fade as time passed? Did I think I could forget the angry tears as I tore a chair to pieces as if it were paper? Could I lose a moment that still regularly gets caught in my throat?

September 16, 2015, is the day we lost Stacy.

Not lost her.

Failed her.

She was hurricane-force winds of passion and creative energy contained within the fragile walls of a child’s soap bubble. Her strength, evident in her writing and photography, was a brilliant beacon, valiantly piercing the darkness until it couldn’t anymore.

“I’m going to go the way of the Greats.” She would talk seriously about leaving the world on her own terms before she was no longer free to turn down the help and charity of others. It’s equal parts admirable and horrible – she was sharply crystal clear what she wanted, even if she remained ignorant of the cavernous hole she would leave in her wake. Stacy never considered herself special. She never understood the impact she made, and actively denied her importance to the world. If she could have been there for her funeral, she would have dismissed it with a wave of her hand and a sarcastic laugh, followed by a torrent of words explaining why she’s insignificant.

She wasn’t. She’s not. And even though I know I know I know it’s not true, guilt sits with me. On the couch at my friend’s house where I write this post while waiting for power to come back on at my house. In the backseat of my car when a particularly evocative song erupts from the speakers. Behind me at my desk, its hand on my shoulder, as this blessed fucking social media serves up painful reminders from the past. The guilt remains. I should have done something – anything. I could have prevented this. I let her down.

Anastacia Campbell, if she were to read that paragraph, would launch into a furious tirade, telling me exactly why I’m wrong to feel guilty. She’d tell me that she never doubted my love and friendship and loved me the same. That she knew I had her life preserver ready to go, 24/7. That how dare I think I could stop her once she’d made her mind up. I hear her now: “Avi, don’t you think for a solitary heartbeat that there was anything you – yes, even you, you hairy superbeast – could have done to stop me. You may like to climb tall buildings with way-too-young ingenues over your shoulder and fight off planes while thumping your chest, but that won’t stop this WOman from putting her finger on the button and going full-on Dr. Strangelove fucking nuclear. Guilt is for Nazis and bad parents – get over it.

I know she’s right, and I’ve made peace with the lack of closure and the feeling that had I listened a little harder, had I reached out more frequently, had I told her more consistently what she meant to me, had I only fit a DeLorean with a flux capacitor and gone back in time, things would have been different. I know they wouldn’t have. I know that what remains are the love, the feelings, the memories, and everything that I’ll never forget about Stacy Effing Campbell.

Stacy Campbell

I’ll never forget the text I got. “Hi Adam. This is Stephanie, a friend of Stacy’s. Can you call me when you get this?” I sat in my car and sobbed as I dialed. I knew. We all knew.

I’ll always remember laughing until we cried as we laid in bed and shared the most awful memes and jokes.

I’ll never forget the calls and texts I made to her circle of friends. The messages I sent and received. The tears and rage.

I’ll always remember giving her space to suffer in her own way until she’d emerge like a butterfly, filled with energy and life.

I’ll never forget the friends who helped. The ones who gave to make sure her life could be celebrated properly.

I’ll always remember our conversations ranging from perverse to world-changing to darker than our souls.

I’ll never forget the hug I shared with a stranger who has now become one with my circle of close friends.

I’ll always remember our plans for the future, bigger than life and filled with hope.

I’ll never forget sitting quietly in her apartment, seeing where she lived even though she no longer did.

I’ll always remember her smile and her laugh, her warmth and her love, and what she meant to me.

I’ll never forget this day.

I’ll always remember her.

Today, two years ago, was the day we lost Stacy.

Someday I’ll find her.

stacy campbell

 

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