I Will Hold You Ten Times

As longtime readers know, there are four or five JMG entries that I
repost every year. This is one of them. My dear friend Daniel Johnson,
who threw the most kickass Groundhog Day birthday parties for
himself, would have been 58 years old today. His was a life that burned
brightly and I am illuminated still. Daniel Johnson, 1957-1997.

I Will Hold You Ten Times

1. I will hold you, Daniel.

2. The lesions don’t bother me, I will hold you.

3. I will pretend nothing is wrong when you want me to pretend and when you want me to hold you, I will hold you.

4. I will make plans with you to go to your favorite places that we
both know you can no longer go and I will sit with you and look at
your pictures of these places and I will hold you.

5. I will ride with you on the train to your doctor’s office and when you get sick in the station, I will hold you.

6. I will see the Post-It notes you put all over the house reminding
yourself to do everyday things like “Turn off stove” and “Lock front
door” and I’ll pretend the disease isn’t robbing your mind and when
you tell me something for the third time in ten minutes, I won’t let
you know, I will hold you.

7. I will go to Safeway with you because you need to get out into the
world and when the diarrhea overwhelms you and you shit your pants
in the middle of the store, I will call us a cab and in the cab, I
will hold you.

8. I will make you mix-tapes of our favorite songs from last summer,
just like you asked me to, and when the memories make you sad instead
of happy and you throw the tapes in the trash, I won’t get angry, I
will hold you.

9. I will sit up all night with you because the fevers and night
sweats won’t let you sleep. In the morning, I will change your
drenched sheets and help you out of the shower and when you weep from
the sight of your withered body in the mirror on the bathroom door, I
will hold you.

10. I will hold you, Daniel.