(An open letter to a friend for over a decade who passed away suddenly in a tragic drowning accident.)
I saw your mom at a job interview. I wasn’t expecting that, and of course, neither was she. I don’t know many people who were close to you. I guess we never ran in the same circles. Our friendship was always so random. The last time I saw your mom, I was when I was picking up Wyatt, the not yet named black lab, from your house. You and your lab were so perfect. Wyatt is perfect for Travis. He annoys me to death. I guess because he is a real dog, so he is big and always in the way. For the first part of his life he probably thought his name was ‘Move’ because that was all I ever said to him. However, for the first part of his life, I wasn’t sober. I know you are in heaven because I knew you were a Christian. I know you know all about Wyatt and me. This letter is more for me because I don’t know how to let go of you.
We became friends in high school when you were dating one of my friends. We went to different high schools and had different hobbies then. Now, you would be so proud. I was the chorus/theatre girl who had just moved here from New Orleans. You were the country guy who was friends with everyone. That was something about you that I loved. You could be friends with everyone because you saw the good in everyone. When we met,I had gotten my GED and dropped out of high school. I was in cosmetology school and I fried all my hair off. That was just the beginning of all the million of things I quit. I quit high school and then became a beauty school drop out. Amazing start to life. You still wanted to be my friend. You took me fishing, which was very dangerous because I was very uncoordinated. You were always patient and kind, yet painfully honest when I needed it. We always had so much fun just doing nothing. I remember the one time we took a baby kitten fishing on Lake Jackson. You had named him Buck, which I always thought was a silly name for a cat. I guess it fit though because he was very feisty. He kept leaping out of the boat, so of course I had to keep saving him.
On that first night that we became friends, I had destroyed my hair. I had to cut it all off. You took me to get a milkshake at Steak n’ Shake and told me to cry it out. Ever since that night, we met over the years there at all hours of the night when one of us (usually me) was in crisis. You did have your moments though! Nothing ever surprised me that you would do. Nothing. You would call me at totally random times in life. There you would be. What is killing me is that you will not be there anymore. You will not appear. I use to see you at the most interesting places that I did not expect and it would make me the happiest person. You could always bring the biggest smile to anyone’s face. That was one of your gifts. I know you are probably so mad that I am crying now as I write this.
The last time I saw you was at a gas station. The weirdest thing is that I think I am going to see you at gas stations now. I know weird. I just can’t wrap my mind around you not being here. You can’t be gone. I try to think that your spirit is still here. Your happiness that you would bring is here, just not the physical you. I remember when I found out about the accident. It was the day after my birthday and Travis & I were on Lake Jackson trying out my new rod & reel. It was all over the news and Travis mentioned that someone was missing in Big Blue. I asked who it was. He didn’t even think about it when he said your name. Your name. I felt myself go numb. I didn’t think it could be you. No way would you do that. Part of me is mad. I still am because I am selfish and I still miss you. I will always miss you. There are so many people who will always miss you.
You changed my life in such a positive way. You never gave up on me when almost everyone else did. You loved me through the worst of times. I could always call you. You wouldn’t make me feel like less of a person. You were so proud of me when I told you I had gotten sober. You knew I was stronger than this disease. Now, did you know I could be so awesome at fishing? You knew I could do whatever I wanted to do if I put my mind to it. So, I am sure you aren’t too surprised. I remember picking out lures for Travis at Kevin’s one day for some present. You helped me and he was so impressed. I know what they are now. I wouldn’t need help! But I still want you to help. I still want to go into that store and see you. I know the people there feel the same. I want to take YOU fishing on MY boat. I want you to meet my angel Vivienne. I want you to get to know Travis, my everything. He has that kindness that you had. So few people seem to be genuinely kind, I’m drawn to that.
So, I wrote this for me. To help me grieve losing you. You were(are?) one of my closet friends for the longest time. That was a hard thing to accomplish. I think I will continue to keep writing you and hope you will send me your calming wisdom. I hope to get a fishing tournament going one day to honor you and have the proceeds go to your sweet son. Also, that silly dog is always in my way, but it is crazy how sweet he is. Travis says I ruined him. He will lean on you while you wait for squirrels or ducks. He is a lover. He protects me when Travis is at work, so I am so grateful to have him. He reminds me so much of Hoss it is remarkable.
I love you, friend. I miss you. I always will. You have made this world a better place. You have made me a better person. Until we meet again in heaven I will remember to be more like you, kind.