One year ago tomorrow, Arijit died.
It still seems unbelievable that 365 days ago, he was alive. I have a photo of him from that day; it’s of him, asleep, with our cat curled up on the pillow next to him. The last text message he ever sent me arrived at 1:17am. It reads, “7 years ain’t enough. I love you.” I’ve gotten better at a lot of things this past year, but I still can’t read that message without crying. Just like there are still songs and emails I can’t make it all the way through. I test myself every so often. The list is shrinking, but it’s not down to zero yet.
I’m writing this on the 21st because I plan on hermitting away tomorrow. I’m at Monument Valley, on the Arizona–Utah border, which is an excellent place to fall off the grid for a day. Arijit and I were supposed to come here for Valentine’s Day last year, but he was having too many problems with his G-tube for us to make the five-hour trip. So I’m here now. It feels right, or at least as right as anything can feel this weekend. I go to beautiful places on difficult days because sometimes I need the reminder that life is beautiful. Arizona, for all its many faults, is an incredibly beautiful state. It was one of things about this place that Arijit and I both loved. So I bring him to all those places he didn’t make it to, because I see him in the landscape and I hear him in the birdsong and I feel him in the sunshine. I see and hear and feel these things, and I know he sees and hears and feels them, too.
I’m still not sure how I got here. The strange temporal mismatch of grief is still strong, and I still remember the day he died like it was yesterday. Very little of this makes sense, except in that grander scheme of life and death and cycles, but I’ve stopped expecting I’ll ever figure it out. I just know that I’ve made it this far, and life is good, and I’m generally happy, and right now, that’s enough. I’ve worked hard to get to this point, and I’m ready for day 366.
And so much of that is because of all of you. I’ve done much of my grieving alone, by choice, but when I didn’t want to be alone anymore, I was never at a loss for someone being right there, waiting. In the days and weeks after Arijit’s death, so many of you reached out to me, and even though I dropped off the face of the Earth for a spell, know that those little words meant so much. And it wasn’t just those of you I was so fortunate to count as friends—people I had never met, but who loved Arijit, shared that love with me, too. Thank you, all of you, for your patience and kindness this past year. No one ever expects to start their 30s as a widow, but if that’s how things must turn out, I’m a pretty lucky lady, all things considered. The future looks much brighter because you all are in it.
But first, day 365. A day to celebrate Arijit, the love of my life and my hero, now and always; to mourn the time with him I lost; and to cherish the time I was so deeply lucky to have.
Fuck cancer, and long live love.
For those of you who also love Arijit (and if you are reading this, I assume that applies to all of you), I hope you’ll join me in doing one good thing in his honor this weekend. Donate time and/or money to a cause you believe in, perform a random act of kindness, reach out to someone in need, tell the people in your life that you love them, plant a tree or feed the ducks or hug your pets—anything that leaves your world a little brighter and kinder than you found it. Arijit was one of the rare examples of a person who was just truly and simply Good, and it’s up to the rest of us to keep that little flame of his goodness burning, because that keeps him with us, too.