To Alan, on the First Birthday Since He's Been Gone

  1. Alan would have been 56 today.
    While we were never in school for it, I always remembered because it was the code to the copy machine--0622.
  2. Alan was my constant in college.
    Every week, for ten hours a week, I would sit in the basement of Annie May Swift Hall, in a small office with Alan. He was not just my boss; he became like my school uncle. We listened to Regina Spektor often, and I can't hear Patty Griffin's "Burgundy Shoes" without thinking of Alan.
  3. Alan was a poet, and loved Emily Dickinson.
    One collection of poems he had published was titled "What Emily," a look into the imaginings of Dickinson's life and works.
  4. My junior year of college, I made a short film with another of Alan's work study students about a young man who died of a brain tumor. Alan was gracious in letting us take the Fridays before our shoot off.
    It was a story of friendship, based on the other girl's high school best friend.
  5. The Monday after we wrapped, Alan was out sick.
    He had been complaining the week prior of tooth/jaw pain.
  6. He didn't come back that year.
    Alan's sister in law, a doctor, and convinced him to get checked out. They found an advanced brain tumor. When we visited him in the hospital, he asked us to please make a more fun film for him to accidentally live through next time.
  7. Alan was moved to a new apartment and had a nurse that lived with him. Throughout my senior year, he would come back part time to work in the Performance Studies department, but it was mostly a formality.
  8. One day, he handed me a small wool gray notebook that I'd seen him scribble in over the three years prior.
    "Are you sure you don't want to keep that?" I asked him twice. He told me it was mostly blank anyway. But it wasn't.
  9. I graduated in 2012, and kept in touch via email with Alan. His health was bumpy, but July 1, 2014, two years since I had last seen dear Alan, I received an email that he had died.
    The last email he sent me was a RAV4 commercial, where a clumsy child get zapped into being bubble wrapped. He always knew I was so clumsy.
  10. Today I pulled out Alan's notebook and flipped through. A lot of it isn't completely legible, but then I found this poem, and started crying at my desk at work. (1/2)
  11. Happy birthday, friend (2/2)