Today is the first anniversary of Male’s death. Though he died two years ago, he has two death anniversaries. He died on the 13th, but I didn’t know until the 15th. I can’t believe it has been two years in some ways, since it really does feel like yesterday, but in other ways, it feels like so much longer, like half a lifetime, or maybe like he never really existed at all. Fifteen years with someone isn’t very long after all.
I can’t really remember him as a whole any more. I remember the way he walked, his hands, his eyes, and even his feet, but I can’t clearly remember his voice or the way he smelled. I loved the way he smelled, even when he was sweaty and gross, but I can’t remember his particular scent at all.
I remember the words he said, but I can’t remember the voice that said them. All I remember of his voice is that it wasn’t as low and rumbly as you’d expect from a 6’5″ bear of a man. The only reason I recall that at all is from an earlier memory. The first time he was away, some 17 years ago now, when we had only been dating a few months and I didn’t know him like I do now, he called and his voice surprised me. I had forgotten it then, like I’ve forgotten it now.
I’ll never know him any better. I knew him better, or at least differently, than practically everyone, yet he still surprised me. Sure, we knew almost all of each other’s stories, I knew every inch of his body like I know my own, and even now, I still expect him to make the comebacks he always made though he’s not here to say them, but his reactions to things were not always what I expected and he could change his mind.
For example, long before Trump was President (a regrettable reality which would have absolutely killed Male if he were not dead already), we were talking about undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
I was feeling particularly liberal and exasperated with the conversation, and said, just legalize them all. Open up the borders. Sure, check their papers, backgrounds or whatever needs checking, and put them in the system, just like us, so we can track them if needed, but let anyone who wants to come over and work for the American dream do so. Make them pay taxes, make them vote, and for goats sake, make them do jury duty. We need a bigger juror pool, because I’m tired of doing it every two years.
If the state of immigration was like it is now when my grandparents came over after WWII, I wouldn’t exist as such. My dad would have been raised in the Karelian Peninsula of Russia née Finland and married some nice blonde woman instead of my mom. I would be named Tuuliikki or something else with too many vowels, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Immigration used to be the American way.
Male looked at me aghast for a second and I could see the gears turning in his head. After a pause, he said, you know, I was going to argue this thing or that, but it turns out that every argument I came up with is ultimately just political rhetoric. You’re right. There is absolutely no reason why we can’t handle immigration like we used to. If my ancestors hadn’t come over from Ireland, I wouldn’t exist as I do either.
That was one of the few times I ever swayed Male in an argument, so I remember it very clearly. Like all humans, he was mutable. He reasoned and thought and argued and had very clear opinions on things, but he was not set in stone. The thing that makes me saddest is that he will remain forever as he was. I will grow old and wrinkled; he will always be the same. He stopped changing. I’ll be an 80-year-old with some part of me still in love with a 30-something.
Just a few hours after I found out he died, I took a shower. Having essentially been numb to the news up to that point, I finally and completely collapsed in the shower sobbing at the sight of it. It’s funny how an ordinary thing like a razor can cause you to completely break down.
I have been using his razor ever since. It would have annoyed him to no end had I used his razor when he was alive, but from the day I found out he died, I’ve been using it. I don’t think he’d mind now.
I took a shower this morning and used his razor. When I no longer use it, maybe I’ll finally be ready to move on–whatever the hell that means–but two years later, his razor still sits in my shower next to my own and I use his instead of mine every time.