Facebook was finally on the chopping block.
Time to leave all the pages I never visit, the people I’d forgotten I’d followed, the groups I graduated past.
And then I found a page I was still following. And I remembered why.
So, this is for you.
I remember your smile and humor.
The ginger child on the bus when we carpooled to the christian (xian) private school in the middle of farmland. I still remember your smile and laugh, how silly you were. The pranks, the jokes, the silly faces and bubbly personality.
How you drove your brother crazy sometimes.
You were the funny one, he was the serious one. The Ginger Brothers. He wore glasses, you did not.
I always thought of you as part of two. Two peas in a pod, even though you were the younger brother.
I remember joking with you during the long bus rides. I was pleasant to everyone and in a casual way, our interactions had gradually extended to that gray place between acquaintance and friend.
Then again, I was in high school and you were in middle school. I couldn’t say that I took you seriously, but any gap in age was bridged by humor. I could be silly sometimes and you made me smile too. And I learned that your humor belied a deep intelligence I hadn’t encountered in many of my peers.
It was such a gray time. And a ginger ray of sunshine was a welcome gift.
I remember the day you gave me your necklace. I think I commented on how cool it was. You had two, and you gave me one. I was surprised, people rarely gave me gifts. I thought you were joking.
But you weren’t.
I was concerned, a bit, that it might have been some sort of gesture. In my limited experience, guys give gifts with strings. So I was on guard for the next few days, but nothing changed.
You were silly and charming as always and didn’t give me moon eyes. Thank goodness!
We could be friends.
Thank goodness, it was nothing more than a kindness; not even a motive, just selfless and almost thoughtless giving. The innocence of children.
I wore that necklace for a time. A gray string connected to spikes shaped into a cross. It was the perfect mix of gothy and xian that I could get away with wearing it and it was the perfect example of my style.
Time flew by so fast…
I barely remembered.
I went to college.
Two years later you were dead.
Like a pebble of ice, I could not define the sense of loss. Unlike the sense of not seeing someone during the day to day, how do you fill that sense with the knowledge that you can’t even remember the last time you saw someone? Someone you will never see again?
The why was a mystery. It was sudden, quick, and hopefully painless.
Rumors -stupid and vicious- were thankfully silenced. A funeral was held. Memorial passed.
But I was over 300 miles away, and completely off the radar. Frozen, I mourned from afar.
A distant sadness. Regret. It was a selfish grief. Resolving the smile of potential with the cold clasp of the grave. Realizing that the ginger peas were now a ginger pea, I would flip back through the fuzzy memories and try to remember.
But it was like grasping space or embracing a galaxy. Futile, impossible, and vaguely insulting.
If I had known how short the time would be…
I found the necklace again. Somehow, it has survived several moves and stayed with me. I took it as a sign.
A way I could remember you.
For over a year, every morning, I’d look in the mirror, see the necklace, and remember. It wasn’t a prominent display, but it was enough.
The only time someone commented on it was during warmer weather when an observant professor noticed. I’d been in his office hours for years, trying to understand some difficult classes that he taught, and during that time, I had never worn jewelry. I explained, haltingly, that I was remembering you.
But I didn’t say that your memory was drifting farther and farther away from me.
Over time, the necklace seemed to get heavier and heavier. I experienced neck pain and migraines, but it was a small price to pay. No longer a memory, the piece had become more like penance.
I could barely remember your smile. I was chasing a phantom and the memories faded like mist in the summer heat.
All I had left was the memory of your smile and that twinkle in your eye.
And then the necklace broke.
I held the broken string in one hand and the cross pendant in the other. It couldn’t be fixed, I didn’t have a chain to put the pendant on.
And I swore I heard the wind whisper that it was time to move on.
Even if my cynical mind denied it; -sign or not- the necklace could no longer be worn.
You were more than a piece of metal and string. I might have forgotten so much, but you never slipped far from my mind.
The irony of memories is that you always remember someone being the same as the last time you saw them.
You could have finished college and started a career by now. You could have married the girl of your dreams and had your own ginger child.
So much that could have been.
Like a story forever incomplete -or prematurely ended.
If a “being” or “god” is responsible for your demise, I’d like to know why “THEY” thought you needed to go. I’m still angry and sad about that.
I miss you.
I still remember…