I never met him. I don’t know him, I wouldn’t be able to recognize him on the street. I’ve never heard his voice, but I can imagine it. I can hear the lullaby my sister sang to me when I had bad dreams echo in his laugh. He doesn’t have green eyes, but I see in them the best friend I lost to death so many years earlier. I don’t know what he thinks about when he wakes up, I don’t know how he likes his eggs or whether he likes eggs at all. But I do know scenes from his life, little snippets of memory and grief and longing and self-discovery. He loves his family. He is loyal to his friends. He misses his mother. I wonder if it’s hard for him to sleep at night without her the way it is for me without my sister. He loves his father, and his siblings. He is funny, he’s sweet, he is good natured and endlessly caring even to those who he doesn’t know. It is a good way to come out of tragedy, strong and shining and developed.
To me, a schizophrenia patient, I shouldn’t think that he’s real. A hallucination, a figment of my imagination, a dream maybe. But I want him to be real, I really really want to know that he exists, breathes the same air as everyone else, his feet touch the earth when he walks, I want to believe it.
It’s not easy. It never is, never will be. But, here’s to the guy that I never met, who changed my outlook on life without ever talking to me. I didn’t know what it felt like to breathe clean air, I’d forgotten how much better a person feels after they cry out everything they’ve been holding in. I cried for the first time in two years, and I have never slept better.
Reading about his life, his experiences–reading everything that he wrote tore me open, left me red and raw, reminded me of everything that happened to me, and I was finally at peace knowing that there’s someone that might understand. They might understand that loud noises frighten me, the color red makes my head spin. Broken bones give me nightmares, and I can never meet anyone’s eyes if they’re green. Dark places scare me, and I’ll probably never visit the city ever again. Someone can understand that I need to get out. Someone can understand about Jaeson and Maria and Raihan and how bad things happen to good people. Someone I’ve never talked to, someone I’ll never meet, who maybe will never listen but that someone exists and this realization is what holds me together right now. Maybe I’ll never get there, but for now, he is my role model. He is my silent mentor, and I am eternally grateful for everything he has unknowingly given me.
Happy birthday, Shamir. Thank you for my life.