Tomorrow marks the last day of 2013. The ending of another year that you never got to see. On January 15 you should be turning 25. It’s been almost five years and it still doesn’t seem real. Or fair. Or anything less than frustratingly devastating. I’ve been thinking about you a lot recently. Not that I don’t think about you frequently to begin with, but I guess with a five year anniversary the thoughts are more vivid. More piercing.
I remember the first time I saw you. I actually heard you before I ever saw your face. You were sitting a few rows behind me in the auditorium that they tore down a few years ago. And you were singing Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman” along with the soundtrack playing during the intermission. I remember laughing before even looking around to find out who was singing. The first thing I noticed wasn’t your eyes or what you were wearing or the color of your hair. It was your smile. That contagious, huge, wonderful smile. Our eyes locked and you were wearing that huge smile and I was laughing and I knew you were going to be a big part of my life. I just had no idea how big.
You were my first real boyfriend. The first boy who picked me up for a date. The first person to kiss me. The first person to make me feel beautiful. The first person that made me feel like my heart was going to burst open because of how I felt about you. The first person to make me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe. The first person who thought I was just as funny. And you were the first person close to me to die.
My memory of the first time I ever saw you is just as clear as my memory of finding out that you were gone. It was winter. I had barely made it through my first semester of college. And my phone would not stop going off. Finally I picked it up to see who was bothering me so early on a day I got to sleep in. Missed calls, voicemails, text messages. All from people from home. “Fraser, you need to call me.” “Fraser, call me as soon as you get this.” “Fraser, something has happened.” And I knew. I knew something terrible had happened. My phone went off in my hand and I picked up.
“Fraser, Jon is dead.”
Even though I knew.
“There was an accident late last night. He didn’t make it.”
And then I went numb. I slid my back down the cement wall and stared at the ugly, dirty carpet of the dorm stairwell landing. I didn’t know what to do. The people I had met barely knew me, let alone knew anything about you. How would I explain? I couldn’t bring myself to call my family yet. My mom would cry.
I’m a runner by nature. If something difficult comes my way or something I don’t want to deal with forces me to confront it, I run. All I wanted to do was run from this. From this knowledge that you were gone. But I couldn’t do anything. I could just sit there. I wanted to be far away from where I was. From everyone that knew me and knew you.
I couldn’t cry though. I tried. I felt terrible because I couldn’t. I owed you tears. But there was nowhere I felt alone enough to cry them. There was nowhere I could go to scream and cry and be alone with my memories of you.
Then the day of your funeral came. I was freaking out because I didn’t know what to wear. I’d never been to a funeral before. I had to borrow a friend’s car because the battery was dead in mine. As soon as I got on the interstate I cried and I thought I would never stop.
Then I was in the church. And you were there. And I was laughing because it was so ridiculous. So ridiculous that the most full of life person I’d ever known no longer was alive. And the body at the front of the church didn’t look like you.
Time is supposed to heal things, right? Somehow with your death it doesn’t though. The older I get the more you stay the same age. And I feel angry. At the strangest moments. The other day “Live Like You’re Dying” by Tim McGraw came on the radio and I thought about you. About how you would never get to do that. I went to put flowers on your cross and was mad because there weren’t more there. I become mad with myself because as time passes I find it more difficult to remember things about you. I worry that if Facebook wasn’t a thing I wouldn’t remember what your face looked like.
But every time I become angry, I remember. I remember that it’s okay that you never knew how many days you had left to live because you already lived each day as if it were your last. So it’s okay. And I know it’s okay that sometimes I get mad or really sad because I know that you’re seeing it and laughing at me.
And I keep the memories that were favorites of mine fresh in my mind. I write them down. I think about them. I think about all the times you sat next to me in church and I felt like I was going to throw up because I was trying so hard not to laugh. Or the time I got mad at you and you showed up at my house and pelted me with water balloons. Or staying up until 2 a.m. playing Guitar Hero. I remember that you gave me confidence. You showed me that I was good enough and that I deserved the best. You taught me what it’s like to love someone and to be careful with people’s hearts because a lot of times it hurts more to break someone else’s heart than to have your own broken. And you remind me to forgive because I never know when the last time I’ll see someone will be. The things you come to regret the most are the things you never said.
I miss you and I’m sorry. Thank you for your smile and for visiting me in my dreams. Thank you for choosing me back. I’ll be seeing you baby blue.
All my love,