I found him. Lifeless on the ground, I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t do anything, I was frozen. Next thing I know these strangers are carrying him away. I follow behind the ambulance to the hospital. After hours and hours of relentlessly waiting this man, a doctor, came to me and gave me a look of despair.
I assume the worst, I was right. They let me see him. I sit in the dimly lit room, my hand on his, it’s cold. I feel like I’m gonna throw up.
These past few hours feel like a fever dream and I can’t wake up. I think about the first time I saw him. His pale skin, red eyes like he was recovering from a cold, his short crow black hair. He sat next to me in the circle of shame, that’s what we used to call it.
He was admitted by his mother, she had noticed that he had been sneaking the pills from her purse and medicine cabinet, at first it would only be one or two at a time, soon it turned into handfuls and then the whole bottle. She gave up all hope, he would tell me that all they would do is fight and fight. “I bet most people think that hating their mother is a sin, they’re hypocrites, they’ve also hated their mothers. Maybe for a second, maybe for a year. Maybe no longer, maybe they forgot, but, they all have.” I met her once, I could tell that she loves him, a mother’s love never dies. As i’m sitting next to him his mother walks in, she hesitates at the doorway. We share the same look of loss and melancholy.
She hugs me, we hysterically cry in eachothers arms. As I drive back home I get this sense of regret, there’s more that I could’ve done, more words I wanted to say, questions I wanted to ask, experiences I wanted to share. Death is what makes life worth living, life is so precious, yet it’s death that makes it mean anything. Once something or someone dies, that life is gone, all that’s left are the memories,your thoughts and feelings, a timeline has reached its end.
Once I come to this realization, I reflect on my past, my mistakes, heartbreak, regret, not only for the things I did, but for the things I didn’t do. I think about my mother, her big blue eyes resembling a doll’s, her long brown flat hair that reached just below her waist, those glasses she wore that I always called stupid but she insisted on wearing them anyways, she was the sun in the middle of winter, nothing fake, nothing false. A diamond in a sea of glass. It’s been a few weeks since that night, my phone blares a loud ringtone, it startles me. I was hesitant to answer, who could be calling me? I never get phone calls anymore.
It’s a number I don’t recognize, I pick up anyways. A woman’s voice greets me “Hello? Is this David?’. “Yes, I’m him” I answer weakly and my voice shaky, why am I so nervous? “Oh! Good, I was worried that I might’ve had the wrong number. I was calling to tell you that we’re having a funeral for Stephen, I know how important you were to him, would’ve been 6 months last wednesday” She lets out a forced, sad chuckle. “I was wondering if you would want to say a few words about him? I would really appreciate it, I know he would too.”.
I don’t say anything, there’s a long pause. Tears run down my face, “I miss him.” I hear her sniffle, “I do too.” she says with her voice cracking. We talk more and the phone call ends.
I don’t know if I can bring myself to do it, to face his mother again, to see him getting buried underground, to talk about him in front of that many people. Nothing compares to losing someone you love. The morning of the funeral comes. I get out of bed and make myself breakfast, I sit down to eat, I can’t.
The thought of it is repulsing. I throw it out and get into the shower. I’m standing with the scorching hot water hitting my back. My mind’s blank, I feel numb. I notice my fingers starting to prune, how long was I in there? I pull out of my closet a suit, I stare at it trying to remember the last time I even looked at it. I start buttoning down the white, now slightly yellow shirt and tuck it into my pants. I feel ridiculous.
As I drive up to the burial sight I spot a small crowd of people, one of them being his mother. I drive past them and park around the corner where they can’t see me. I sit there, waves of emotion crash into me. I can’t do this. I can’t not do this. I have to do this. For him.
I get out of my car, I walk up to the crowd and I’m greeted by his mother with a hug, she whispers in my ear “thank you.” She introduces me to the rest of the family. My time to speak comes, I feel my heart in my throat, I hear the pounding. Once I’m up there I introduce myself, I’m not thinking as I speak, the words just come out of my mouth.I see his mother crying, but she’s not the only one, almost everyone is.
Once I’m done speaking I get a hug from nearly everyone. Everyone was handed a single white rose to place onto the casket, I tie a note I wrote the night before to the rose with a rubber band. In it are the things I never got the chance to tell him, apologies, memories, the future I saw with him. Signed with “I love you.” I sit in my car, I don’t want to go home, I feel like i’m missing something.
I start thinking about my mother, I haven’t spoken to her in over a year, I wonder if she misses me. Does she think about me? What I’m doing. How I’m doing. I start driving towards the town I grew up in without even thinking about it.
I’ve been driving for hours. As I drive past all the streets, neighborhoods, stores, my old high school. I’m flooded with the memories, good ones.
I get this overwhelming sense of nostalgia and melancholy. I don’t know how I feel, I don’t know how I should feel. I’m smiling with joy but I’m also on the verge of tears, I’m feeling every emotion at once. I stop in front of the house that I grew up in. The house I abandoned.
In it are the people I abandoned. I somehow work up the courage to get out of the car. I walk up to the front door, I turn around. I get back into my car. I can’t do this. I get frustrated with myself and get out of my car. I practically run to the front door and I knock without thinking about it.
My hearts racing, I’m shaking. The door opens. It’s her. She doesn’t say anything.
We both stand still, staring at each other. She takes me into her arms. “I missed you” she says through tears. I start crying, “I missed you too”.