A died unexpectedly in May; he was a year younger than me. I found out on the same day I noticed the unbroken large green speckled egg in the empty swan’s nest by Nun’s Island, the grass rising to cover it.
At the time, I wasn't sure if what I felt was grief or melancholy. We weren’t in much contact. The odd birthday greeting. Eleven years had passed. Sometimes I think my physical distance grants me some immunity from grief.
But I remember: his gentleness. The brutal murder of his sister, not long before J and I left for Ireland. Her children. Their sad-eyed mother. His art. His love of taco trucks. Walking around at night while J and A tagged this and that. Hanging out in the cemetary, drinking 40s and watching the sun set as the shadows deepened into night.
With the return of memories, grief loses its vagueness. It takes shape, attains contours, and casts shadows. What links us, A and I, is memory, however deviated our trajectories. I mourn the memory of the person I had known, as well as the person he was becoming, the person I had yet to meet.
That month, I’d come across dead or distraught birds on my walks through and around the city. A sparrow drags its body along the pavement by its wings, swish swish, as an elderly man tries to catch it. A martin lies on the pavement, squished by a car, all exposed bone. I chanced upon a starling in the grass: its irreparable wound catches my eye first, a gaping scarlet chest. Little mounds of feathers and organs and interrupted song, these are spring’s minor and unmourned tragedies. What a time. When everything is most compelled to create new life—to congregate, mate, lay, hatch—there is the reminder that being and becoming are ever on the verge of interruption by circumstances beyond control.