Eight years. Eight damn years. Can you even believe it? I don’t know why eight feels so much more significant than seven. Maybe it’s because in another eight years you will have been gone as long as you were with me. Time is bizarre like that. The day you died somehow simultaneously feels like a completely different lifetime, and also just yesterday.
I was 16 when you died. It’s weird that now, as a 24 year old, I’m totally different than the girl you knew. Obviously in many ways, I’m exactly the same. I still squeal when I see baby animals. Sappy commercials still make me cry. I love music and art, and finding new things to inspire me.
I’m still your goofy girl. Making people laugh never stopped being one of my favorite things to do. I never outgrew doing funny voices or characters. I still dance around Target or do weird things in public for the sake of a video.
But in other ways, I’m someone you’ve never met. I’m a bit harder. My optimism is a little less shiny. I’ve had my heart broken more than once. I’ve kissed terrible boys. But I’ve also loved wonderful ones. A few I wish you’d met. A few I’m glad you didn’t.
I don’t have an opinion on the afterlife. I don’t want to assume either way. Maybe you’ve turned into a dog and you’re getting belly scratches right now. Maybe you’re some giant floating head in the sky and you’ve been watching all of my achievements (and my failures). Or maybe, you’re not here. And I write these things for myself. To remember you. To feel connected to you.
When I woke up this morning, I didn’t even think about the date. I saw it on the calendar. Didn’t think anything of it. I flitted around the house, dancing to Ashlee Simpson’s “Autobiography” (still a great album, if I may). I put on red lipstick and enjoyed my reflection in the mirror. I went to a coffee shop down the street to work and write.
And then, I looked at the date again.
You’re gone. You’ve been gone for a long time.
But what I never expected was how my relationship with you continues to grow. Sure, I can’t hug you. And that fact is painful and the kind of thing that remains an ache I’m pretty sure is never going away.
But I talk to you. I laugh about our adventures and the ridiculous things we did. I watch your favorite movies and listen to your favorite songs.
For the past month, my best friend has been taking a polaroid of you all over Europe. She is visiting the same spots you did. So, she brought you along. Not gonna lie, I’m a bit jealous. You’re dead and STILL going on European adventures. Meanwhile I’m just watching a lot of Buffy reruns.
She’s currently in an Irish pub, listening to folk music with your photo tucked neatly in her purse. You’d like that. That sounds like the perfect day for you.
My love for you has no expiration date. And neither does my missing you. I find you in my happiest moments, a bittersweetness that you aren’t here to witness them. I find you in my worst moments, when I’m not proud of who I am. Or when I think of throwing in the towel. I find you there, too. You’re like my Jiminy Cricket.
There’s no way to eloquently end this. I could try and try, but nothing I write will ever do you justice.
Just know, I miss you all the time. And that’s why I bring you with me. That’s why I’ll never let you go.