It comes to you in a moment you'd never expect it to. In a place so far from home, over coffee on a warm sunny evening in the square with her.
She says she doesn't have plans for the future. Because she never expected to live past thirty. She feels too little and yet too much. Przebodźcowanie. To be overwhelmed with so much feeling you feel nothing. When a loved one dies. When heartbreak falls.
And just like that, you exhume the memory of him: The nothing you felt when you first heard. The nothingness that became perplexed annoyance at the funeral. That became collective melancholy at the party to celebrate a life cut down before its prime. That became nothingness again even as you read his words a dozen times over: An act of compassion in this ridiculous letter written months before the end, meaning something, surely.
But you feel simmering indifference for a year. Forgetting.
The indifference that becomes the pang of sorrow when you remember a year later. The absence you'd forgotten. He hopped off your train without explanation.
The pang that tumbles into true melancholy a year on: When you read his words and remember not just the loss of him, but the person that he was. Everything you admired of him, that zeal and wonder.
But in relating this to her: this story of the end of his life and this life after death—and the words he wrote you—You feel so cold now. Cold despite the sun, despite the company, despite home being continents away.
Because this melancholy blurs into the regret and anger and confusion of the now. When the words he wrote you are all you have left. When what was once him has become a blur of things you can barely remember. Was he kind? Was he compassionate? He must have been.
You unearth the letter for her. It's still on your cloud. He wrote you a recommendation to his university, condemning it for refusing to take you for a place. The stream of words is as manic as it is wonderful, a stream of praise of your being, it's so sincere you could hear him rant it. You never did send it on.
And she tells you it's beautiful. And in reading it with her, you remember some of how he was. Endlessly passionate, endlessly full of wonder. His mania.
Przebodźcowanie. What a beautiful word. You know how she feels. You know what it means to feel too much, and yet not enough. And what you both fear underneath. And you cannot accept not having plans after thirty; not from her.
No, she isn't him. Not like him at all. It's wrong to draw lessons from the past like this. And yet you do, because here, you are kindred in a feeling. You can't bear the thought of her not prospering. Not well.
You fumble with your phone, trying to see if Messenger allows you to make plans in ten years' time. It doesn't. You have to use Google instead. And thus you announce: We're meeting in ten years for coffee.
The two of you laugh. You'll call her in ten years: 'Urgh, she'd better be dead if she isn't picking up'. More laughter, before arguing over the place. Not New York. (Not here either) Vienna. Vienna! We will meet in Vienna!
The laughter lingers in you as you walk home. As does the cold: As you read that letter on that walk home and remember how much you've forgotten.