I am used to death. But not to yours. Yours means, for example, that I am drinking now the tea I bought for you. It also means that I don't know what to do with your phone number. I have on my desk the letter you sent me a month ago: "pay attention only to the good and beautiful like you", you wrote.
When I was 15, I felt capable of parting the lips of anyone. I was so scared that I dressed in black, in metal, with a bunch of weird things, and you met me like that. Then you looked immortal, so tall, so strong. You told me to pay attention to the good, and I thought that it was easy to say, but being 15 and having a weekly heartbreak and pimples on my face left little room for the good.
Just a little over a month ago, before your letter, you called me and told me that your stomach hurt. Anxiety, I said. Anxiety, you confirmed. And I spoke of Primperan for the nausea. My God, if I had known then that you were dying, dammit.
But we did not know, and we talked about the mental health patients and the past a bit perhaps.
Later I got the email in which they told me that you were dying. I was going in the car down Langata Road. There were huge and ugly monkeys crossing, and some stupid tourists stopped their Jeeps to make stupid photos of the stupid asses of the stupid monkeys. And I never cry. But I cried. And Waldo said: Hey, in three minutes we have a meeting. And I said: Now, give me a tissue. And I brushed my hair, and I put on makeup, and Waldo asked me if I was OK, and I told him: I do not want to talk now, let's work.
And I worked all day and decided not to cry any more for you. Because you had not died yet. You were still here. Maybe you could get better because you did those impossible things many times. Things like love me when I was a bitch. Things like believe in me when I did things like say that I was a vegetarian after eating a Big Mac.
When you died I was buying tofu. I had malaria. And A was at my side. He died, I said. And A was quiet. I appreciated it. I also kept quiet. I lingered in the vegan food section a bit longer. Then I went outside and it was raining.
I did not tell anyone. Say what, that you have died. That you left me a phone number from which will I never again receive a message wishing me a good trip. That no one will ever again call me to recite my favorite poem by Salinas:
"Que hay otro ser por el que miro el mundo/ porque me está queriendo con sus ojos. /Que hay otra voz con la que digo cosas/ no sospechadas por mi gran silencio; /y es que también me quiere con su voz."
("For there is another being through whom I look at the world /because she is loving me with her eyes. /There is another voice with which I say things /unsuspected by my great silence; /and it is because she also loves me with her voice.")
Or that I carry that last letter with me as if it was a treasure, and I will end up loosing it in some airport. Or that I am terrified of forgetting your face or your voice. Or that I can no longer say that there is someone in the world that loves me in that way that is so precious. I do not know how to say goodbye, in a dignified manner, I think. So I drink your tea. And when it is finished, we will see.