The Angel (a previous blog piece)
By: Ben Harvey
In remembrance of you, Christian, a friend and inspiration to many.
This story is not specific to any one town, person, or thing. It is rather specific to us as people. Us as friends. Us as family. Us as human beings. It is tousthat this story applies. Because it was at this time that I realized what I realized again late Friday night- that we all need each other.
It was November of my freshman year, and I was succumbing to a new reality at the time; a reality that was much more real, much more new- one that showed me the true colors of
the world. I began to see the sky for what it was, a violent mesh of orange on blue, purple on gray, the fiery shade of dusk, a cycle of darkness and light, that could never be escaped from. And as my legs hung off the edge of the docks, the small ripples of the bay caressing my feet, I saw what this world was: horrifying. I saw that this world was so vibrant yet so jarring at the same exact time. But I, a naive boy, thought I was alone in seeing what they really were, that was, until a friend clad in black with their tresses cut short came along; they will be referred to as merely- the Angel.
But something that must be known is that every time I ran to the docks, from the first time I ran there to the last, I played a certain song through my ear buds, and I sometimes would sing it. I haven’t listened to it much since my freshman year, or thought of it much either. I ought to have been thinking about it, truthfully I should have.But in the light of everything that has happened though, the song has once again appeared in my stream of consciousness, forcing me to remember this very night.
Its last two verses went a little something like this:
Reality will break your heart
Survival will not be the hardest part
It's keeping all your hopes alive
All the rest of you has died
So let it break your heart
Hold onto hope if you got it
Don't let it go for nobody
Hold onto hope if you got it
Don't let it go for nobody
And they say that dreaming is free
But I wouldn't care what it cost me
I sang those words as loud as the wind that blew back my hair on that desolate fall night, as horrid as the sound of those miniscule waves, barely bigger than ripples atop puddles, but as confidently as the egret defending its nest. Little did I know, the Angel was watching me, silently, but somehow I knew they were there too. Something told me they were. I knew that, for whatever reason, the Angel and I were meant to be there together that night, and I knew, at the back of my mind, that our paths were somehow meant intertwine, so that we both may finally shine a light on each other’s darkness. Where that light came from… well you’re about to find out. Or maybe you already have. I truly do not know. All that Idoknow is that I seem to have forgotten what I learned from the Angel that night, and I am ashamed.
The Angel first broke the silence, after my singing that is, by stating one of the most obvious lies I ever heard- that I sangbeautifully. I chuckled for a short second, and then remarked that I remembered the Angel from our middle school. The Angel sighed, releasing an air of disgust and resentment. We talked about how terrible that place was, how it reminded us of such a confounded thinking place, a place full of nothing but struggle and hurt.
We pondered about the aching pains which came out of that place, and talked of all the memories we wish we could suppress, but fail to in the end . For me, it was the deaths I’d seen of my family members whilst there, and the depression I felt after the fact. The realization of how brutal this world really could be without you even necessarily deserving it, how… uncompromising it can all be. But then, as if the deaths were not enough, no more than a few weeks earlier than when I was at those docks, a good friend of mine had cut things off. It was then that I was trying to see the point of it all, along with me being confused on who I was as well as where I was going. But so was the Angel.
While my family members were dying of cancer that month, the Angel was in a mental facility on suicide watch. I listened in horror as the Angel told me how they’d arrived there; of how the Angel was confused about who they were, about how the Angel constantly had rocks and stones thrown at their wings for the mere simple fact that the Angel knew how to fly. That the Angel was beaten down and left to perish by those who they thought were friendly peers, turning out only to be scornful children who were blissfully unaware of all of the damage they inflicted; not only onto the Angel, but onto each other. After one too many beatdowns, the Angel wanted to fly back to heaven. Thankfully, the Angel’s father managed to cut her down just in time, so that the Angel may breathe. Looking back at when the Angel was beside me, recounting the details, the Angel did not know that her breathing would enlighten me, and widen my eyes open. To show me an answer, a path, a compass to my vessel for which I could maneuver and live happily. A gift that I could only dream of repaying.
And so, as the Angel and I sat side by side, talking amongst all the colors of the night- the Angel did teach me something. Something that I hope resonates, and that I think does resonate with everyone right now. A mere compass to life that she placed right in the palm of my hand, but I’ve been too stupid to not show it to others. So here it is, my decree to you:
We all struggle. We all have scars from the knife of the world that slashes upon us. We all have our own rivers to drown in, and our own pain to suffocate ourselves with . Life is both our anchor and our sail, but we are each other's sailors. We can work together to lift each others anchors and hoist each others sails, so that we may press on. And we can guide each other’s ships to a place where we may be able to live in peace, and laugh with joy to the benefactors of our past, present, and future… even if they hold a great storm in their midsts. We can provide ourselves as the light to break through, and the bandage to the wounds that we all suffer. We can heal ourselves most of the time, but there will come many a day when we need another to lift us up. We may be afraid to cry for help out of fear of showing weakness, even though it shows absolutely none. But either way: be there for one another, help adjust each other’s sail, and lift another’s anchor. For I know, and the Angel knows, that that is something we all need desperately… so that we may do right in the wrongs that the world’s nature puts upon us.
So that we can trudge on with a lighter step, a lighter breath, a brighter smile.
That is what I learned at the docks that night, and that is what I so foolishly forget sometimes; what we all seem to let slip. The Angel, quite honestly, made clear to me what is good in life, and that is the fact that our tenderness to each other is valuable, that the kind words and conversations that can transverse can make anything and everything the slightest bit better. From there, the Angel lived on, and so did I. From talking about our demons and our struggles, through helping to navigate each others sails… we managed to get a little bit closer to our paradise. To a point where life is merely not a question of whether it is worth living, but to the definition that makes our waking up every morning the slightest bit more bearable. Because I now know that without each other, without the comfort of those around me, and without the comfort that the Angel provided me that night I may as well not be here right now. So come back to this whenever need be, and to the Pailleret’s, I mourn and I pray for you.
This is in dedication to you, and him.