ElegyI was sitting at the bar in a club in Montreal. My friends danced around me, pulling on my arm, trying to get me off the stool. I faked a cheery smile and shooed them away with a gesture of my drink. I swallowed tears.
Four surgeries and nearly a year of convalescence had gone by, and I was changed. Bed rest had left me fat, scalpels had left me scarred, medication had left me swollen and despondent. It was my first night out in 14 months and I would have given anything to be back in my bed, safely under sheets where my self-consciousness wouldn't have mattered. I didn't recognize myself - not in the mirror, and not my heart. I couldn't dance, not like this. For the first time in my life, I sat through an amazing set, and I barely even jiggled my foot.
And then, for a split second, the music stopped, and I looked toward the dj booth. He smiled at me, and he announced the next song: "For the pretty girl who just won't dance, maybe this one will get her up."
Robbie had a way of knowing what we needed before we knew it ourselves.
He was always there for me, with a hand on my back and a whisper in my ear. His amazing heart was generous to a fault. He gave and he gave, and he made you feel like you were the gift.
It was impossible for me not to fall in love with Robbie. That such a talented man could in turn be so passionate about supporting my humble pursuits always left me feeling breathless. He never asked for much. He was surprisingly quiet, and thoughtful. He made me feel safe.
We aren't really here today to say goodbye to him, we're here to love each other through our shared sadness. We are lucky to have known him, because it's brought us into this circle of friends and family who all really care for one another. Robbie was a handsome flirt, covered in tattoos, who loved fast cars and thick steaks and expensive shoes. But he knew that life was good because of the people in it, and he loved us all, every day, sometimes more than I, at least, deserved.
I've struggled this week knowing that I couldn't at the time give him what he wanted, and I've regretted some of the things gone unsaid. It was his mother, Cecilia, who gave me some comfort. "He died happy," she said "because he died with you in his heart."
I hope that is true. I hope he knew he always had my heart, as much as I could give.
Today I give a little more.
And so do we all.