Today has been set aside to remember a lost friend. In August 2014, I was informed that Patrick (PG) Holyfield, an author and podcaster I had the great privilege of knowing, was losing a very, very brief battle with cancer that I hadn’t known he’d been fighting.
There were only days remaining before he’d be gone. If I had anything to say to him, I needed to do it immediately.
It took hours before the news really hit me. I didn’t have a clue how to feel until I sat down and made myself write my letter to him. Words weren’t optional. I had to find the right ones to express everything in my heart for him. There wasn’t time to wait.
I have no idea if I was successful in my prose. I wasn’t there when one of my friends read it to him. Did they ring true? Did I get the point across? Did I communicate even a fraction of how much he meant to me?
I wrote that letter until I ran out of words. I still can’t find any more to give him, because they simply aren’t there. Some people are too dear to us to ever adequately express how we feel about them. For me, PG was one of those people.
In lieu of finding new words to send to him as his spirit drifts through whatever lies beyond this life, today, as my memorial to him, I’m posting the letter I sent to be read for him, if only to reaffirm my feelings behind it, and to let him know that he’s not forgotten.
Patrick, you are missed.
* * * * *
I don’t know how to do this.
I’ve been saying this over and over to myself since Viv called me. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to say goodbye to you.
I don’t want to.
I don’t want to wake up tomorrow knowing I’ll never spend another Balticon or DragonCon with you. I don’t want to not worry about you. I don’t want know that you’re not out there, creating, planning, dreaming…
I don’t know a world without PG. I don’t want to know what that feels like. I want to know that I’ll see you again, that I’ll cringe as you take shots of fireball, that I’ll be unable to resist the offerings of Tuaca, that I’ll sit in an Atlanta diner with you at a very unreasonable hour, and that I’ll get to laugh along with you again.
I don’t want to write this letter, but I need to.
I need to tell you the things I love about you. I need to tell you how much I’ll miss you when those things are gone. I need to tell you that you are a crucial fixture in my life, not window dressing or a cute accessory. You are a cornerstone. You are a piece of the community I wouldn’t belong to if I’d never known you. If you’re not there, do I belong anymore? You are a link to it, an anchor, reminding me of where I’ve started and how far I’ve come, and I don’t want to lose that. I don’t want to be without it. I worry that, without you, I’d be adrift again, my ties loosened from a world I’ve loved for the past five years. You’ve counseled, guided, and listened to me. You’ve not been perfect, but you’ve been a perfect friend.
I don’t want to write this letter. I’m not ready to say goodbye. I don’t know how. I don’t have words for this. I’m a writer, and words are as elusive to me now as they were before I learned to talk.
And so, I won’t say goodbye. Never. I refuse to admit that you won’t be a part of my life. You will ALWAYS be a part of my life. Forever. No matter where I go, no matter where you go, you will have a place in my heart for as long as it beats. You will always be a piece of the groundwork that keeps me strong and keeps me going. I refuse to let go of you. You are firmly entrenched in who I am. This will always be my truth.
People come into our lives like threads of a tapestry. Most of them will be ordinary threads of overlooked earth tones, with a select few holding a vivid hue of red, blue, or green. Then there are those who shine, a streak of glimmering gold against a blasé background, a burst of magic in a life that’s otherwise unremarkable. You, my friend, shine like the sun. You have always injected my life with a touch of sarcastic mirth and inappropriate humor, a brilliant match for the other golden threads I’ve found amongst the mundane. No one can take that from me. Not even you. Without you, the picture is incomplete. It needs your thread. It needs the magic you leave in your wake.
You will always be needed, and I won’t let you go. You will forever be a tie that binds me to other people I love. For as long as I’m breathing, I’ll keep you with me.
I don’t know how to say goodbye. I don’t think anyone does. But, I don’t think we have to. Saying goodbye is giving up a piece of ourselves, and I can’t do that. I’m selfish and refuse to let go of my friends. I never will. So, instead, I’m saying see you later. I’ll see you with every forward movement I make. I’ll see you in every joke I’ll tell. I’ll see you in every new friendship that comes along, because you’re a permanent part of me.
Thank you for your magic.
Thank you for being my friend.