my friend, el.

A couple of years ago I received word that a friend of mine had suddenly passed away. We’d fallen out of touch, but she’d never been far from my mind. I was always so busy when I’d head back to Thunder Bay, trying to fit everything in, and my last two visits - we just never made it work. I stayed up to date through social media, we spoke from time to time, and I thought of her as just there - I thought nothing of messaging her out of the blue, I figured we’d meet up again someday, and that when we did it would be like no time had passed at all.

Being far away and so out of touch - I felt like it wasn’t my loss to grieve. I felt the loss deeply - I still feel it - but it came hand in hand with a lot of guilt for not checking in with her. Now, almost two years later, I find myself wandering through the places I knew her on social media - seeing what books she was loving on GoodReads, visiting her Facebook page, looking over and over again through the archive of photos I still have of that free and disjointed time from ages 18-23, that time straight out of high school - plays, days at the lake, endless yard sales, book clubs, talking true crime - all the countless times we sat in my ‘92 Buick, drove down country roads, and imagined what our lives would be now. Her death was sudden, and heartbreaking, and as unfair as any death can be - especially for someone in their early 30s.

She was sarcastic and blunt with a heart of gold. I called her el, but her real name was Sara. She was smart, and opinionated, and she could give the best eyeroll I’ve ever seen to this day. She was creative, an actress - throughout film school I tried to find parts for her whenever I could because really, the best bonus of making a movie was making a movie with your friends. She was an amazing actress. I saw her once in A Midsummer Night’s Dream - and to this day it’s the only play me and my attention span have been able to go to twice. She shone, in all her dark humour and sarcastic glory. She sparkled, but she’d think it was really lame that I said that. She starred in my terrible first silent film, “Muninn”, about a young girl who is haunted by the memory of her friend who’d passed on. She starred in a few more films for classmates, she folded in - she always belonged in her one of a kind way.

I catch myself sometimes still thinking that it’s a world with her in it. This isn’t a bid for more photos - although take photos as often as you can - it’s just a space to share that today, on this sunshine-filled afternoon, on her birthday, how I really wish I could go pick her up for a country drive. I want to tell her to listen to My Favorite Murder, because she’d love it. I want to hear about what she’s doing, her thoughts on movies, music, fandoms, to mosey on over to the secondhand bookstore, to sit on a dock on Lake Superior while the sun goes down and the mosquitoes swarm, making art in our journals together, taking long exposure photos, road trips in along the shore of northwestern Ontario - on fire with possibilities.