In lifesaving they tell you not to jump in the water when you see someone in distress; in his panic he will claw, grab and hang, drag you down to the murky deep; in his clamber toward salvation he will drown you too. If you have nothing to throw him – a rope, a float – you must wait, watch while he exhausts himself flailing and calling to you, you must wait until he lets go gives up stops moving and face down begins to sink. Only then is it safe to approach, to grab an arm and flip him to his back, hook your elbow under his chin and tow him to shore.
This is why I watch my phone flash when you call, why I stare at your number and determine not to heed the ring. As long as your face is flush and you are live enough to be livid I am of no help; should I wade in we both would sink. But I do see you. I watch and you must trust that I remember what I learned and I know the moment will come to leap and when it does I will and I will yank your arm and turn your face to the sky and you, you will breathe.