At about 11 a.m. this morning, my managing editor sent me an email: “I found these.” Attached to the email was two pictures from when my work volunteered at an elementary school in Southwest D.C. on a Friday morning in May 2006. One of them was of me and John and Amanda outside on the playground. It’s cropped closely to our upper bodies. We have our arms draped over each other, we’re smiling and we’re wearing matching white tee-shirts with “Greater Washington Cares” inscribed on them. John is leaning into me, pressing the side of his forehead against mine. I have my hair pulled back and my sunglasses on, the pair I bought from a street stall in New York. I left those sunglasses on a plane in Berlin the month after this photograph was taken. John died seven months after that.
When I saw the picture of the three of us on the playground right before we painted the asphalt with rollers — bright blues and yellows and greens — my eyes welled up with tears. That spring morning we were dancing to music blaring from a boom box, playing on the swing set and making each other laugh. As it gets closer to the one-year anniversary of John’s death, I find I’m missing him more. I find I’m weirded out all over again that he’s not here anymore. That he died so suddenly at 38 years old.
It was that kind of day, a heavily emotional day. I got an email from a friend who said she was crying at work and she blamed it on PMS. I heard from another who was in a “funk” because a guy she’s been dating for a month — and who said he was going to buy her a toothbrush for his place — suddenly stopped calling and didn’t return her calls. I heard from a third who said she was feeling blah. Maybe we’re all responding to the nostalgia of the holidays. Maybe we can feel the winter storm coming (it’s supposed to snow tomorrow).
Regardless, this video was exactly what I needed. My coworker J. sent it around the office at about 3 p.m., and the reporters watched it at different times, giggling at their computers. And when one laughed, we all laughed at that person laughing. This is the perfect thing to watch when you’re having a bad day.