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Tales of Nostalgia: Bright Eyes and Watery Smiles

She announced her presence with her usual greeting, but I could sense something off. The complete black outfit was nothing out of the ordinary, but there was something…shaky about her, disturbed even. Without much thought to listen to her, I blurted out a compliment about her appearance, straining to examine whatever was out of place. As she began to explain the reason behind her tardiness, I zeroed in on the words

“…the funeral of my friend’s father. I’ve just come back.”

The reality of the statement hit a little too close to home, and I offered my condolences while rising to hold her.

“I’ve hugged so many people today,” she chuckled, lightly.

“Has anyone hugged you?”

I questioned, trying to be as sensitive as possible, but it just wasn’t happening for me. Just as her smile was watery, with tears rendering her eyes brighter than usual, I couldn’t muster up enough empathy to be useful to her.

I understood quickly that she must be recalling the death of her own father, almost prophetic in my assumption; she said out loud what I only dared to think.

“I remember the death of my own father. Ironically enough, he passed away while I was performing.”

This was uttered with a wistful smile, and now as her hair slightly sways in the breeze as she tries to scold someone, I see it.

The familiar sight of trying to push back the rising emotion in oneself, not completely so that it disappears, but only enough that when in the darkness of the night, with only a pillow to accompany one’s thoughts, we may let them loose.

One hand fisted at the chest to try and control that overwhelming ache, another scrunching up the pillow, I’ve convulsed at the pain of losing someone too. Only muted little whimpers escape my mouth and I’m afraid my roommate will wake up. I’d rather she not snicker at my childishness.

I let the memories take over me; to the point, I am nothing but a figment in my own head. As I drift into unconsciousness, her face is the last I see.

Snap out of it, I tell myself, don’t make this about you. By the time I open my mouth to console her; she’s already walking out of the room. I follow her outside, and as we find ourselves surrounded by other people, I cannot muster up the courage to offer more of my sympathies. Somehow, it feels like a sham, especially because the others don’t really know or care. Her soft explanation of not being on time fades away into their chitter-chatter, and I can clearly see her deciding to keep quiet about it.

I want to give her another hug or hold her for as long as she needs me to, and needs someone she does. However, why must I make her remember her own grief and the despair of those she has been around all day? It doesn’t dampen her light, which makes me wonder; how far does she go to give to others what they need, but doesn’t accept the comfort of a shoulder to cry on? I keep questioning it, but it doesn’t matter.

I’m late, yet again.

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