It was the last morning of our Memorial Day week together. As we were talking, Blake started nodding in and out of consciousness. At first he was alert and texting someone, but then his body slowly melted into his phone; his fingers frozen mid-movement. I yelled "BLAKE!" He stirred and then immediately went back to texting like nothing had happened.
I didn't want to brush off such absurd behavior so I questioned, "Why are you falling asleep like that?" He shot me a look that instantly had me thinking that I needed to back down or this would escalate quickly. Blake explained defensively that I knew he hadn't slept much the past two nights because of all the stress he was under. He assured me that I would be falling asleep too if I was him. He asked what exactly I was trying to accuse him of anyway? Was I trying to say he was on drugs or something?
"No..." I thought to myself that I actually hadn't been trying to say that at all, but since he mentioned it so defensively maybe I should have been. But instead I told my brain that what Blake said made sense. He was rattled by upcoming challenges and the fact that I was leaving for a whole month. This was keeping him up all night and had him worrying himself sick. Blake must have been sleep deprived. This was just his body shutting down. Besides, I thought to myself, he already went to rehab and recovered. I didn't want to ruin our last hours together so I just apologized and gave him a kiss.
When I get to the end of replaying this moment, my mind sweeps me up into a different fantasy. In this new version I've concocted out of pain, sadness, horror, guilt, whatever you want to call it, our conversation doesn't stop where it did.
When he questions me "Are you trying to say I'm on drugs or something?" I silently walk over to where he's sitting on the couch. Without a word, I sit on his lap and wrap my arms around him. When I start to squeeze him tightly I notice that his breathing becomes a little shallower and he chokes up. Before I know it he's crying, harder than I've ever seen him cry. It's like the floodgates of his heart burst open and all the sadness he's been damming up can finally rush out. Without a single word we have the conversation he'd been meaning to broach with me for months.
I like this alternative ending better because it gives me hope that he was always just moments away from letting me in on his addiction. But inevitably I pass from thinking that to feeling horribly upset at myself for never uncovering the pain that was clearly right under the surface. Maybe I was so caught up in myself that I never thought to question deeper about what was going on with him. Maybe all it would have taken is one knowing hug to help him understand that I would always love him no matter what. That he had no secret too dark for me to handle. That there was no burden I wasn't willing to help him carry.
I get lost in that for a while, allowing myself to think I could have saved him. I push it further and start thinking that if I would have cared just a little bit more, he'd still be alive.
But that's when I stop myself. Although now I know that "nodding off" is an effect of heroin use, at the time I had no idea that the two were even connected. Now I know that Blake was using, but at the time I had no idea that the state he was in at the end of his final weekend had anything to do with drugs. I can fantasize all I want about how I could've gotten him to open up and come clean to me in that moment, but in that moment I had no idea there was anything he needed to come clean about!
I hope that in writing about this moment, discussing my fantasy, and absolving myself from blame that I have set myself free from it. Although this memory will probably still float through my mind from time to time, I need to remember that hindsight is 20/20. I see that moment with a completely different pair of eyes than I saw it through the first time. For this reason, I can't compare what I did and what I now believe I could have done, should have done. It's not fair to torture myself that way, so I won't.