I’m going to tell you a story this week.
My biggest struggle with this blog post was thinking about how I’d actually write it. Granted, I didn’t expect to be writing about you.
Ten days ago, I lost someone who brought incredible light at my darkest. He inspired me to start this blog, to scream my feelings into this great open void where he said two things could happen and two things only:
- No one else, other than myself, would read it.
- It could touch an umpteen number of people and change their lives in some small/big aspect.
Let me start at the beginning and go back into our flash-in-a-pan moment of life.
Trey and I became Facebook friends, somehow, about a year or so ago. We didn’t speak much, but I lazily followed his posts and journeys, genuinely laughing at a few of his sarcastic, incredibly bright or straight up goofy posts. Our relationship really picked up pace after my dad passed this past December.
It was a softly written message…
“I know you’re going through a lot right now, and you don’t know me, but I wanted to say I saw about your Dad’s passing and I’m here if you need anything.”
The most surprising comfort in the entire world is when you are absolutely destroyed, at your lowest of lows, and the most random people reach out to you with their thoughts of kindness and warmth. Trey was that surprising comfort. He was the comfort I never knew I needed until he was sitting right in front of me, eyes flashing up from his phone and big smile on his face on the night we finally met up in person.
It was at a gay dive-bar called P-Town. Smokey, played obnoxiously loud show tunes (which I’m all for, but it was really just the volume that got to me) and the beer was cheap. He asked if I liked Yeungling and I said yes, even though I ate a big dinner before we met up on this extremely frigid February night. Although our attempts were strong at best, we failed to pull away from our pensively-driven conversation topics about coping, love, life, and loss. With a few beers in our system, full hearts from laughter, and heavy-to-light conversation, we parted ways. We parked near each other so he walked me to my car first, and turned towards me just as we reached it. He smiled with a sweet look of “Well?” on his face, arms wide open and pulled me into him. It was safe to say my heart felt like it was beating a million miles a minute and all I could do was awkwardly cackle when we both let go. We parted ways for the night and planned on him coming over the following week.
So Trey accidentally met my mom the first and only time he visited my house.
And although I preached for the entire day that it was totally accidental he still teased with a raised eyebrow and some soulful “mhmmmm”s. I mean, truth be told, it was totally accidental but I was nowhere near mad about it. The hard part was silencing my phone from how much my mom blew it up,gushing about him to me once she left. After I shared photos of my dad I had on a poster board I made for Dad’s Celebration of Life, we ended up trucking through half of Netflix’s “The OA” and passing out for at least four hours too long. Since the nap was unexpected, he woke up in a panic wondering what time it was and what was happening. It made me jump awake too, just as dazed, but once we realized how long we fell asleep for we both laughed it off and re-admitted that we were both literal trash cans. LOL/not LOL.
Afterwards, we met up with two of his friends at the Shady Grove in Shadyside, shared a pizza with I don’t even remember what was on it, and had a genuinely great time together. Without hesitation, his hand crept over to mine and we interlocked fingers. My fondness for him that I so desperately tried to stifle broke through the haphazardly-built emotional dam and flooded into my body that forced the muscles around my face to curl into the most honest smile. And that was where I admitted to myself that I liked him more than I wanted to admit, and although I was nowhere near looking to be with someone, this felt normal and mutual.
Our relationship grew stronger as the weeks passed, sprouting from winks to texts of “Do you want me to pick up anything before I come over?” And he’d reply “No, I just want you home :)”. I let myself get sucked into the riptide of him, completely engrossed in this airy feeling when everything felt heavy and dark over my dad’s unexpected passing. The brightest moment I can recall, since Dad passed, was the both of us in his kitchen cooking dinner. He played me some Spanish instrumental music with occasional vocals settling in the background.
“What do you usually listen to when you cook?” He asked me.
“Old-timey French music.” I said struggling to cut the vegetables he assigned me to chop for the roast.
“Put something on.”
So I put on J’ai Deux Amours by Madeleine Peyroux and continued to cut the vegetables completely the wrong way. He didn’t care, though. Trey’s hand met my back, pulling me away from prepping and we stood there in the middle of his kitchen, music playing in the background, and he pulled me closer into him. My head rested on his chest, because he was significantly taller than I, and we swayed gently back in forth to the music. His heart beat pulsated in my ear, warming my chest and it emanated what felt like way beyond the walls of his home.
Honestly? That’s all I want to share of our time together. I hope that’s okay…
I always wanted to get a photo of us together… but both of us were so engrossed in our time together, we didn’t care much about the outside world. To me, he was this incredible light. To him, I don’t really know… If anything at all, he made me feel that I was enough for him. Reading stories friends of his post on his wall, now that he’s passed, it warms my heart how much of an influence he was to others. He made so many other people, in country, out of country, right next door, three cities over, simply wherever his light touched—he made them feel enough.
The last time that I saw him, we met for dinner before my birthday get-together down at Diamond Market in Market Square. We sat and caught up; it was a couple weeks since we saw each other but neither of us missed a beat of our energy and presence together. It was like no time had passed at all. I still remembered the sound of his heartbeat in his kitchen, and he still reached for my hand from across the table while he shared his adventures from the past couple days. We walked around the city, simply talking about everything and anything. About each other, while letting ourselves be fully engrossed in our togetherness. Before we parted ways, since he had a certification test the following morning, he gave me one thing; the rock pictured above.
“I remembered it was your birthday this week while I was on my hike the past weekend, I saw this rock and thought of you.”
Trey handed me the only tangible thing I have left of him, to ground me when the feelings become overwhelming and all I want to do is run away from everything and everyone. He taught me how to find peace when all I feel is chaos. He taught me to, even though it hurts and everything is always so unsure, let your light out so you can let people in.
Hell, I even remember lying next to him and tracing the bones on his hand one night after we watched a movie from the Criterion Collection, saying how he made me want to be a better person. He made everyone strive to be a better person, to be open, and love effortlessly and incredibly.
Trey selflessly made us all feel the vast importance of our existence.
And that is something all of us can only hope to forward to others around us. We are all hurting in different concentrations and levels—it reaches beyond the footprint of Trey’s light. It’s the world; we all are hurting. If there is one thing I will promise, for the rest of my life, I will follow in Trey’s extraordinary life and lead in selfless love to everyone. To reach beyond your own pain and touch the others around you.
Part of me doesn’t want this blog post to end. The other part needs it to end to begin the continuation of whatever my life will hold—to continue grieving the loss of such an incredible human being. So, as always, I will leave you with a song (one of Trey’s favorites, of course).
Your “Terrible-Movie Partner” will miss you. Till we see each other again.
And most importantly, more than anything…
Song: Heartbeats by José González