Sometimes, we don’t get to say goodbye. Sometimes, their writing is all we have left.
It began with an email I received early last week, warning me that Figment, a website where I’d uploaded writing in my undergrad years, was shifting gears and rebranding. All users had until January 31 to back up their data.
I went and promptly forgot completely about that email.
But, luck was with me. Or I should say, nostalgia was the friend who came to call late that Thursday night. I took a trip down memory lane, and what that actually translates to is looking at my twelve-year-old VampireFreaks page, the Myspace account I can no longer access, and the even dustier DeviantArt page I hadn’t touched since 2010 or so.
“Everything not saved will be lost.”
—Nintendo “Quit Screen” message
Same as the ways conversations with old friends flow and wind and branch out like slow rivers, my trip down old social media lane took me back to Figment. Everything was there, just as I’d left it well over five years ago.
But I saw a name I didn’t expect—the name of a friend who is no longer with us. Kyle.
Once, I’d talked him into uploading his writing to Figment when I was doing the same. Once, I’d went and completely forgot about doing that too. But all of his work was still there.
Just like it had been when he was still alive.
Eighteen pieces in total. Poetry, novel excerpts, short stories.
And I still had time to back it up.
Website termination was looming. That night, I set everything else aside and backed up everything of my friend’s I could find.
I’m ashamed to admit how long it’s been since I thought about him. But as soon as I saw the summaries of his stories—individual passages—everything came rushing back. His kindness, his intelligence, his humor, his out-of-this-world sci-fi.
I still haven’t started reading what of his I do have. I still can’t bring myself to. And I know I’ve been down this road before.
Miles passed away in August 2015. He, like Kyle, was extraordinarily intelligent, kind, and one of the funniest men I knew.
What he left us was not as easy to piece together. His sister and my long-time close friend, Rosa, collected his notes, journals, anything and everything of the myriad physical impressions he’d left behind. In time, she made this collection into a book, one that I proofread.
That was my goodbye. One last conversation.
Now, that book sits on a shelf in my living room I see every day. Now, a little of Kyle’s fiction sits on my laptop. Both are waiting for me to visit again.
Written ephemera. All that remains to me of two men I miss very, very much. But here, in my little apartment in Pittsburgh, their light still hasn’t gone out. And for now, that is enough.