Do you remember how we first met?It was June, 2001. Francis had set me up at Jan’s house in
I called you, and in your celebrated crass demeanor, you said, “I’m so fucking sick of helping people. But Fran & Mickey said you’re a good kid, so this is probably the last favor I’ll ever do for them."
Friday evening I walked up to your office, and you came to meet me at the door. When you saw me, you kinda froze. Mickey’s snarky voice ran through your head.
“I saw Jeff – when did you and Francis have a kid?"
You seemed to mellow out as we walked over to the bar, where I got to meet Cary, Evan, Brett (and his TV-throwing girlfriend), fat-fingered Tony, and a couple other of your friends & co-workers. We sat down and you introduced me to everyone. We all talked for a while, establishing how I met Francis at the printing plant in upstate
Some time had passed as we got to know each other, and I began to realize you were holding my hand. I didn’t tell you then, but that’s the first time anyone has done that with me. I’ve never felt that close to anyone before, but it was nice learning that I could be. After everyone else in our party had left, we commiserated about our families; I held you close as you cried. You looked up at me from my tear-soaked shoulder, kissed my cheek, and said, “I can’t believe I’m even telling you all this; I just met you!"
I didn’t know what else to say other than, “you’re helping me, so I’m here to help you.” You opened your heart to me. How could I respond with anything but tenderness? After you composed yourself, you invited me to use the spare computer in your office to complete my assignments and hunt for a job. It was late, and we both needed to get home. Holding hands, I walked you to the A/C/E stop on
You squeezed my hand again, and for the first time in my life, I felt like I was a human being. I felt like I was worthy of receiving love and affection, like I was worthy of living.
In my extended bouts of depression and anxiety, I try to hold onto that feeling you gave me. No one, before or since that day, has ever made me feel the way you did. For that, Inger, I will never forget you, and I will always love you.