How do you wake yourself up from a nightmare? If there is a way to do it, I wish I had known about it a week ago, when I tried to find a way out of a dreadful loop where a nightmare tapped into my deepest grief and drowned me in a sea of sorrow.
It was the first Thursday without Banana Fish, too soon after the dead of Ash. In my dream, I wasn’t part of the events. Rather, I was following Eiji, looking at everything from his point of view, never able to see his face but experiencing, first hand, everything he was feeling.
I was there when Ibe showed up to be with Eiji as he heard the news from a phone call with Max. I felt the desolation that enveloped Eiji while he tried unsuccessfully to process the death of his best friend, and finally, the spark of hope fueled by determination that prompted him to return to New York, even in his poor state of health. My throat was in a knot with suppressed cries, knowing Ash was dead but watching Eiji holding on that spark of hope, similar to what he felt that time, when the news reported the death of Ash while in police custody. He would not completely accept Ash’s death until he saw it with his own eyes.
Ii was heartbreaking to hear Eiji, made phone calls while holding back tears, begging Max, Jenkins and Charlie to do everything they could not to bury Ash until he got there.
While travelling, people would try to make conversation with Eiji but He was ignoring everything, not being rude, just not being there at all. He fell into a stupor, acting mechanically all the way through New York, his composure finally shattered when Sing, followed by Alex, Bones, and Kong showed up to pick him up at the airport.
They cried together and hugged each other in those first moments, but when Sing faced up to him and assumed responsibility for his brother’s actions, in typical fashion, Eiji warmly embraced Sing, seeking to relieve him from such tormenting guilt. He was deeply concerned about Sing crumbling at his feet asking for forgiveness feeling responsible for what Lao had done. It was this determination to help his younger friend that made Eiji act more subdued and collected on his way to the morgue where Charlie, Jenkins, and Max waited.
To this day, I still cry when I remember the angst Eiji felt while looking at Ash’s body laying down on a cold and bare stainless steel slab, with nothing on him but a thin sheet of cloth over his body. Eiji was overlooking Ash in pretty much the same way Ash cried over him during the midnight hospital visit where they saw each other last. I felt Eiji’s desolation and deep sorrow as he sobbed uncontrollably with his face buried in his hands. I was right behind him, unable to do anything. I was feeling such grief, it truly was a torment, and I could not wake up. I remember trying to look around wanting to leave, but I couldn’t move. I was forced to look at this scene on a loop over what seem like hours.
Finally, I woke up with a start setting up on my bed, panting. There was this vast feeling of desolate sorrow which did not dissipate quickly, I still have much of its memory and if I’m not actively trying to suppress it, It all comes back like the time I read Garden of Light and could not process the seven years Eiji had suffered through it.
I didn’t think I would ever tell this story, I’m glad you read it through, Thank you. Hopefully now I will have closure on how Eiji managed to survive after his soulmate’s departure.
Story and illustration by M. Morgan