Iubita

My friend, my sister, the loving witness to the darkest patches of my soul. How I’ve missed you. In the past few years, the monster illness that ravaged your body and psyche only allowed me brief glimpses into your beautiful mind. You’d wake me up with a call on weekend mornings, and wait for me so we could have coffee together. And we’d talk. I’d hear of doctors, and medicines, and struggles, of nightmares and hospitalizations, and of hope. Maybe this time it will be better. Maybe this time the good times will last.

We’d always call each other “iubita” – my love. Even though you didn’t know enough happiness in this brief life of yours, you knew love. You gave it with grace and generosity and joy. The monster didn’t touch your soul.

You’re brave, my love. You fought the monster out of love for those who loved you and you did not give up on us. I know death was an appealing relief but you didn’t seek it, because you did not want to hurt those who loved you. You endured, until your body didn’t.

It was a mild winter evening – the first snow of the season, that made Bucharest quiet, clean, and magical. We had both decided to walk after high school rather than catch public transport nearby. I walked up to you, standing in the falling snow in front of the Bucharest Opera house, snow piling on the brims of your black fedora, waiting for your bus. I barely knew you. I was sad. I opened up. You said, “Today, I’m strong. Today, I’m happy. I can support you.” And we supported each other, inseparable, through this hard time called adolescence, and then through this hard thing called life.

You’d never admit it, but I gave you your first cigarette. We’d spend our high school days smoking and eating dark chocolate, skipping class and taking walks, going to coffee shops, figuring out life. At school, we’d stand controversially close to each other and enjoy the side glances. If the boys didn’t work out, we were going to end up together, taking care of each other, into old age and sisterhood.

You threw me the most epic birthday party for 18 – coming of age. Somehow, dunking me into a tub filled with champagne was part of the deal. Ever so thoughtful, you had clean clothes and new underwear ready for me to change into 🙂

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I think you took this photo. It’s my 18th birthday, we’re skipping class and playing in Cismigiu.

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You sent me this photo soon after you moved to Germany. This is how I always have, always remember you. Beautiful and sad, and full of love, iubita.

We wrote letters. Long, handwritten letters. One day, you sent me the box of letters you had kept. You thought they were valuable, maybe there’s something there, maybe we’ll publish one day – but maybe, you didn’t trust yourself to preserve them. That box has moved with me from place to place. I caressed it just last month when I unpacked in my new house. Sometimes your letters puzzled me, your metaphors not always accessible to me – those metaphors that earned you a poetry prize within a year of moving to Germany. Your mind was sharp and switched from philosophy to math and physics, but to me, your gift with words was the most precious. I kept waiting, I thought, one day, that book you’ll write, it will be phenomenal. The monster took that book away from us.

You leave behind The Boy. I remember, as if it was yesterday, how you described, in a letter,  meeting him. He was not the most handsome of them all, but so smart, and so kind, and you just talked and talked through the night. The Boy has been your partner for maybe 20 years now… he loved and cared for you more than a parent. He was with you until the end, and I am so grateful for him, because I know, your life would have been even shorter, even more tragic, if it weren’t for him. So many times I had sent thoughts of gratitude and relief that he was in your life. The Boy, he could still see you, find you in there, even when I couldn’t. I love him so much for that and I’ll do my best to take care of him, as you would want me to, I know.

I so wish, iubita, it had happened in the middle of a phone call. I’d have wanted to be there with you. It kills me that you were alone when your body collapsed. We were so close, you and I – whether we didn’t talk for a day or a year, we never lost closeness. I pray you are in a good place, free of suffering, and that our spirits remain close, connected in the bond of our sisterhood – a sisterhood like no other.

Te iubesc, iubita. Rest in peace.

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