Letter to Jacquie (#3)

Dear Jacquie,

I’m writing to say sorry. I know how late it is, and I’m aware that it’s unusual to apologize to the dead, but I doubt I am the first to offer my apologies to the dearly departed. I’m over the unusual nature of this correspondence, and I write now with the belief that you would appreciate the sentiment. So here it is, my list of apologies.

I’m sorry I didn’t get up from the table, follow you to the bar, and buy you a drink that night. That night, I saw your mouth quiver after you had said your piece. I watched you get your money out of your purse and pay for the drink. I watched you put your coat on as the bell rang for last orders. I can’t imagine what I was thinking. I agreed with everything you said, and you were right, nobody can tell you that your memory of something is wrong, even if they remember (the same thing) differently. Perspective is a minefield. At the time, I thought it better to say nothing since the subject had nothing to do with me, but I think my silence might have been mistaken for something else. I think my silence made me complicit, in a way. I was also conscious of my willingness to come to you in those situations, and on that night, it made me still. I know you’d say it doesn’t matter. It’s okay. But these things are never okay in my head. They stack up and torment me, torture me, whisper at me in the blue hour of the night. Not just things that involved you. Other things. Conversations, incidents, old memories. I relive and overthink them because I wish I had done more, somehow, done better. Sometimes I think writing it all down makes everything worse, but it also offers a way into making sense of things. I’m still trying to make sense of all the sorrys, unsaid.

I’m sorry I didn’t call to see you more.

I’m sorry I wasn’t better in myself. I know you understood and recognised that failing in yourself.

I’m sorry I didn’t always respond in the ‘right’ way.

I’m sorry that I found you difficult and that my love for you only took me so far.

I want you to know that I find everyone difficult, especially if I love them. I know you felt similarly.

I’m sorry that I was barely functioning on account of my own problems, that I was too often drunk or hungover and both states were the worst versions of myself. If I was okay, I could have been better for everyone else. You’d say it doesn’t matter, but it really does.

I’m sorry that my need to protect my mother at all costs sometimes manifested in ill-judged reactions.

Most of all, I’m sorry for that other night when it went wrong. It doesn’t comfort me that I dealt with it all well for all those hours before I lost my temper. I like to think I conduct myself in a way more befitting who I really am these days.

I’m sorry for calling you that word, so sorry, I can’t even bring myself to type it all these years later. You could never be that word, no matter what version of yourself – difficult or brilliant or any of the shades in-between. I regretted it as soon as the sound suspended in the air, I wanted to swallow it, demote it to a thought, but the word just echoed and repeated in my mind. I hated myself for it and still couldn’t bring myself to apologise. Not even when you did, all those days later in a pretty country, not even when there was laughter and all that lovely chemical-free wine. I’m sorry for not reciprocating when I had the chance. I’m sorry for not saying what I should have because to say sorry would have meant accepting my faults. I’m sorry I was too stubborn. Sorry I was the kind of person who could not say sorry when they were. It’s redundant laying all these sorrys out like bricks, especially when you’re not here to see them/ read them/ feel them. But here they are. Too many and not enough. No language can help. There is no beautiful way to dress it up. I am just sorry from the bottom of my stupid heart.

Love always,