Almost 5 years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night suddenly, slightly disoriented in that way you are when your sleep cycle is disrupted. I blinked a few times and promptly went back to sleep.
The next day, my cell phone rang as I bustled into my apartment, on a short break between class and rehearsal. It was a friend I hadn’t talked to in a while. I was so excited to hear from her. And then, she delivered devastating news.
The next day I was on a plane heading to NY. I would miss the formal memorial for my friend, a young woman who had been murdered on Manhatten’s Lower East Side, but I needed to be with my friends. On the subway to Brooklyn, my friend’s face was plastered on the covers of newspapers. I watched them sway and bump with the motion of the train and couldn’t quite make myself believe any of it was real.
Today, I feel the same way. But while the pain I felt then was sharp and brutal, today it’s sneaky, grabbing me at strange times, like now, in the middle of an evening of cleaning, filing and other mundane tasks. Now, it’s amplified by the fact that all those friends I just had to be with back then are drifting from me: getting married, moving to new places, living full lives somewhere that I’m not. I’d be sad about that, regardless of the murder. But the murder amplifies it. It’s a simple, not terribly profound thought, but it knocks on my subconscious sometimes; how would our lives be different if that snowy night in NYC had ended differently?
I wonder sometimes if my being jolted from sleep at approximately the time my friend was dying is some sort of cosmic wonder. And then I shake my head at myself. I hadn’t talked to this friend in months. To be honest, I hadn’t thought of her in weeks, and I very much doubt she had thought of me.
But still, I trust in the unknown too much to not take moments like that, and even like now, tonight, to heart. I can’t figure out what they are telling me. But they are telling me something. Maybe someday I’ll figure it out.