I don't know if it's coincidence that major personal events often take place around June 7 or August 3 or if it's Rickey's way of helping me not dwell on anniversaries. The part of me that aches to believe in the impossible wants to embrace the latter, but the part of me that clings to logic reminds me that - five years later - I am still vainly searching for some sort of connection with him.
It's like when my mom - a devout Catholic - found me a few days after Rickey's death sitting at my brother's computer in their Asheville home, crying and googling psychics who claimed to communicate with the dead.
"Oh, Katie," she said as she touched my shoulder, "I know you want to believe in things like that right now, but those people are taking advantage of those who are hurting like you are."
I knew she was right, but it made me angry that she said that. I wanted someone to tell me that he wasn't gone forever. That there was still some way to reach out, to communicate, to right our wrongs, to say all the things I should have said. Maybe that's why I can't help but count coincidences.
September 3, 2003. A month after he died, I received the job offer for my first post-collegiate job.
August 3, 2004. Nothing happened. I called in sick to work and kept my bedroom door shut. I fully expected to spend the day crying. Instead I was numb. I screened phone calls and watched TV.
August 3, 2005. Terrence and I were driving overnight from Sacramento to Las Vegas. We had been camped out at Kevin's new house trying to catch overbooked flights to Atlanta. We drove overnight to the Las Vegas airport in order to catch an available flight and drive to Cullowhee in time for his college graduation. Long story.
August 3, 2006. Due to circumstances beyond my control, my scheduled August 1 "Move to NYC" date got pushed to August 2nd. The overnight journey in a rented stow-and-go minivan - packed to the brim with every possession I hadn't sold, donated or thrown away in North Carolina - had me riding over the George Washington Bridge in the early morning of August 3, blinking into the sunrise and not believing I had finally arrived. It was the hottest week in New York City's history. It was already 90 degrees and I was about to begin moving into the living room of my best friend's fourth floor walk-up in the South Bronx.
June 7, 2007. I was helping Tokii prepare to move from the South Bronx to New Jersey and into her first apartment with her fiancé.
August 3, 2007. I was in the middle of last minute bridesmaid duties for Tokii's August 10th wedding.
June 7, 2008. I was so busy closing the lease on my new apartment and preparing to move this week that June 7 crept up on me. I realized it was Rickey's birthday shortly after midnight as I was unpacking boxes in my new bedroom. He would have been 32 today.
I tear up over Rickey at random, unexpected times. When I see something, hear something or smell something that reminds me of him. But oddly enough, on most anniversaries, my emotions are dull. My eyes are dry.
I'm not grasping at as many straws as I used to when I was trying to keep my head above the emotional flood that gushed into my life after he died, but every now and then I notice a coincidence. And I reach up, grab a tiny straw and hold it tightly.