Letter to Jacquie

On love, loss and writing

Dear Jacquie,

It feels ridiculous writing on account of you being dead. I suppose that makes this a dead letter. I tried writing to a living person, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Besides, the last letters I wrote did not receive a response. I like to think they got lost in the post, but really, I know they were ignored. That’s the problem with the living – they don’t always answer letters, and they almost always disappoint you if they do. Dead people can’t disappoint you. They can’t answer either, which is problematic in terms of this correspondence, but I’ll try to write a good letter, regardless.

I don’t know what to tell you – there are too many things. I can’t tell you about the whole world in one letter. I suppose I’m writing this (in part) because I haven’t been able to write and because I want you to know my book finally got published (the one you read in that hospital bed/ the one you said reminded you of Kes). Then, there was nothing except a debilitating inability to write anything more challenging than my name. I think I had an adverse reaction to publication. I was suffering from a strange side effect, at least. I still can’t tell if I had a breakdown or writer’s block and how I’d have known the difference, but I kept wondering what you would have said. I kept wishing we could have had coffee, but really, I mean wine. I can tell you that I miss you. I can tell you that you don’t realise what someone brings to you until they’re gone. It pains me to admit but I can confirm that the clichés are true, apart from the time/ healing one. I don’t think that one is working for me, not yet, anyway. I think time might bend and change grief. I think grief is kaleidoscopic. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t think it’s something that goes away. It just ebbs and flows like a tide. There is no end, and why should there be? If you love someone, the love does not end with them, so it stands to reason that grief is an all-time deal.

I almost didn’t write this letter for fear that writing to you now is strange and redundant, but in the end, I just had to. I was worried about people in our family and what they’d think (if I’m honest). I’m aware that my need to write to you could be read as a kind of dismissal of the ones who are alive and available to talk. Of course, it’s not the case, but people usually read me wrong. I know what you’d say about that, so if anyone finds this letter strange, that’s okay. I don’t expect anyone to understand the nature of our relationship and how it was always about talking. I just miss the conversations. I miss knowing that someone else understands what it feels like to feel outside of everything, even yourself.

On the subject of what I should or shouldn’t feel, I kept thinking I should be okay with the fact that you’re gone. I even felt like I had no right to care this much because there’s a notion that this kind of grief is reserved for others, those who qualify as immediate family, and since I don’t fall into that top-tier category, my grief is considered lower league. Except it’s not, and grief and loss should be measured by how much you loved someone because that’s how it works. The more you love, the more you lose. I almost felt like I was being dramatic about your death. That’s very fucked up. Imagine thinking you have no right to be infinitely sad about losing someone, someone like you. Well, I am still sad, and I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know where to put that sadness apart from on the page. So I’ll write again. I’ll write in the hope that the words will come and somehow you’ll be there to receive them.

Love always,