Short Story

You Were There

-my pause is to appreciate everyone who came, including you. Especially you.

The door opens, I’m there. I’m wearing a typical casual outfit for me, you probably remember it from a night at a brewery or an afternoon lunch we’ve shared. Crew neck sweater, jeans, comfortable shoes- nothing fancy. I smile, because I am so glad to see you. I welcome you in and tell you to sit anywhere.

My apartment would not normally hold this crowd, but for this occasion I tell you that it will seat as many as want and needs allow. You take a seat, I tell you that there is plenty to drink, of whatever you might want- whiskey, wine, beer, juice, and more- and there is another knock at the door. I welcome people in one or two at a time. Each time they find their seats there is another knock again.

They come from LA, from Northern California, from Washington, the Midwest, the East Coast, Canada, and overseas. They all arrive fresh and smiling. Many of them hug me and tell me that it’s been a long time. I apologize to each of them who says this.

You watch as the room fills, and you see that as I promised the room is never full. Dozens have arrived, and they are drinking and talking and waiting without an ounce of impatience or schedule, only expectation. You don’t remember who the last person I welcome is, only the feeling that this time when I shut the door it clicks with a finality. You see me walk to the edge of the group and the conversations all seem to end naturally as eyes are on me.

I am abashed, you can see it plainly in the way I hang my head. I am taking a moment to consider something it seems, but you and everyone can see that my pause is to appreciate everyone who came, including you. Especially you.

I smile. I don’t smile much or often, you know, but my smile is brilliant and broad and genuine. You can remember it, you were there after all. You listen as I tell you and everyone gathered:

I’m looking around and remembering how much of the world is out there for me and us. I’m seeing how much work and kindness there still is for me to do.  I want to thank you all for being a part of that, and getting me where I am, and keeping me going where I’m headed. I want to thank you all for believing in me as part of your worlds. I want to let you all know that I feel it, and it makes me who I am and who I strive to be each and every day.

I talk more. There are those among the group that call out encouragement, or ask questions. You may have asked me something, and when you did you saw my eyes meeting yours with all the focus and attention I could offer. When I listened, you saw that I care for you as much as it is possible for anyone to care for another person- I care for you that much because you are not just the reason I am here, you are the reason I am glad I am here.

At some point it shifts seamlessly to everyone standing and lining up for the door. You watch as each of them say their farewells in their own ways. You watch as I hug them all and tell them how glad I am for them being here. You saw them all, because you were there waiting for your own farewell. You heard the love and earnestness in my voice at each farewell, and each promise I made to all of them.

When it came time for your farewell, you may have wished you could stay for one more drink, or asked me more questions while I was speaking, but when my eyes meet yours you knew that we would have time again for that, wouldn’t we? You listened and hugged me tightly and tighter still as I said goodbye. I told you I would see you again in the waking world, and that we would talk more then, and that when we did I would have wonderful things to tell you about, but that I’d be all the more eager to hear the wonderful things about you.

You remember how softly I said this while I hugged you. It may be a faint memory as all dreams become, but if you try just a little, you can remember it can’t you? You can remember me. You were there, at my door when I opened it to welcome you in. You were there, among the friends drinking and joking who are yoked by me as their admiring and grateful friend. You were there at the goodbye.

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