A collaboration of the memories of two important people.
You don’t know it’s going to happen. You didn’t know the smiles shared from across your American Literature class were going to just disappear. You anticipated their disappearance with the inevitable graduation, but that kind of closure is expected. You know which smile is going to be the last smile. You know that last hug will be tighter, will be warmer, and will be longer.
I wish the story ended that way, the way that I had expected it to — with perfect closure, both of our bodies pressed against each other’s one last time, knowing that this is goodbye and maybe time will bring us back together again.
Death is a reoccurring theme that just keeps happening the older we get. As children, we witness death through the eyes of others. We see our parents weep, leave the house with a sitter, exiting in black. We don’t realize what’s actually happening until we’re the ones who are being affected by it. We know death is real, but we don’t feel it. You don’t feel it until it walks through your door.
As we grow up, we begin to make connections with more people, giving us a bigger risk of them leaving us unannounced.
College years were the glory days, the beginning of freedom and friendships; the late nights and laughter never really got old. The people who enter your house — better yet, your life — are little keepsakes. They will forever be engraved into your memory; you will associate their face with a certain memory and a certain scent, and their smile will fossilize in the back of your mind.
Let your friends come over for a few hours when all you want is to be left alone. Let them come over because you never know when the last time they will walk through that door will be.
Remember the goofy smile and the kid-ish yelps that would always leave his mouth when he saw you — how his face lit up when he wasn’t expecting to see you and just so happened to bump into you. Remember how he was the face you looked for in a crowd of unfamiliar faces because you knew he would be there and would want to share a drink with you.
Don’t let the rain stop you from walking to class with him.
Remember his placement in poetry class, backed up between two large windows with a maple tree enhancing his dark features and illuminating smile — his witty antics and how he always had something to say in class that left everyone laughing. Remember how he looked at you in wonder, wanting to pick your brain for your knowledge, wanting to get inside of your mind.
Remember, because that’s all you can do.
Death isn’t a topic we are taught in school. We are told the death dates of famous authors and politicians; we are told their cause of death and the impact that they made on the world. Textbooks don’t print how to cope. Parents don’t warn us about death– about how it will feel like the wind is knocked out of you the moment you hear the news. You will choke up, and you will feel lightheaded.
You won’t know how to respond when someone tells you how sorry they are. You will nod your head, and you will be confused as to if you should thank them or just keep quiet. You won’t know how to grasp the thought that all you have now are memories — that there will never be time spent together again.
Time will pass, and it will be easier to grasp and understand the concept of that person being gone. You will forever be nostalgic of the times you can remember having with them. Their smile is what you will remember the most. Their smile is what will make you sad. But day after day you will lace up your shoes and you will try to live for them.