He’s still with me, but it’s a scar that’s healed, knitted, faded; only occasionally do the strings tug and the ache returns.
I’ve told the story enough times now, part and parcel of my background spiel. I’ve met enough new people that I’ve had to explain why I pause before some thoughts, searching for the best way to say something. Why I flinch when someone tells me that they love me. Why I tell the DIY disaster stories with a laugh and a memory that never fails to make me smile. Why I run my fingers gently across the wire of the railway bridge and pause to watch the train come roaring past, even if I’m chattering happily. Why I pause for a moment, if someone’s got that half-shadowed look in their eyes and that edge to their smile, and remind them that I’m there if they need to talk.
It won’t always work. I know that: he taught me that. That slice of the scar won’t ever fade.
But all I can do is remind someone else that I’m here, I’m listening – and I understand.