I watched the sunrise over the Oregon mountains from an airplane this morning, and it broke my heart.
How can twenty years be an eternity and an eye blink? Twenty years. Twenty years.
I barely remember the girl who didn’t say “I love you”. The girl who preferred not to be touched, who shied away from hugs until the day that connection became necessary because it was the closest thing she had to solace.
I don’t know what path I was on when you left us. My life has been divided so strongly into before and after that I feel there is no way I could know. Perhaps I am exactly the person I would have been with you that I became without you. The details from before are hazy now. They were, even before the passage of time smoothed the corners I could remember.
I remember your death more than I remember your life.
I wish I had known then what I know now. I wish I had written down everything I could remember of you, read it again and again until I was certain those memories would never fade. I wish I could celebrate your life the way I can still relive the weeks after you died.
I carry guilt and responsibility for the last moments of your life. It has been twenty years of living and experience and I know now that the conclusion of that last phone call will probably always be the thing I regret the most.
I want to miss you, but time has taken that. I do mourn you. I wonder if our friendship would have survived our youth or if we would have slipped from each other’s lives, become a late 20s friend request and the occasional conversation when we both happen to be in town. I wonder if you would have grown up and gotten out, or if you would have followed a path that kept you home. I wonder who you would have become as an adult, if you would have a family, a life you had built for yourself.
I think about all the things I have experienced, the people I have loved, the places I have been in the last twenty years and I wish, desperately, that you had a journey of your own.
Maybe I do miss you. Maybe I miss the person you would have become, whether you were in my life or not. I miss the space you occupied on this earth. The absence of you left an empty place in me that even time has not filled.
Know that you are remembered, and in memory, loved.