At 16 years old, in the aftermath of tragedy and loss of yet another 14-year-old in my home town, I stated aloud how death has a way of putting things in to perspective. Death has a way of mending relationships and burying grudges, urging us to hug the very people we never thought we would be able to look at without triggering our own gag reflexes, let alone, embrace voluntarily. Death has a way of healing us by reminding us of our own mortality.
You looked at me as if I held the key to the Universe. You stared for far too long, before shifting your eyes to the floor beneath us, and thoughtfully mumbled, “Yes. I like that. That is very true”.
A heavy silence reclaimed the room, and you continued to stare at the floor as if I had just spoken some form of truth in to existence that weighed itself heavily on your shoulders. You remained still as if I had enchanted you with my words, leaving you immobile; A hostage to your own thoughts. You were as enamored by my words, as I was by the way you had looked at me when I spoke them; The way you truly heard me, for the first time.
In your eyes, I realized that my words held power.
There was always a warmth between us that never should have been there. You were always too much of a coward to admit to the flame’s existence or extinguish it, even though it was your job to do so. Maybe you were just desperate to feel something; to feel warmth from someone, even if the person it came from was half your age.
Do you remember the way you looked at me, on that day, and on several days scattered throughout the years that followed? Because I will never forget, no matter how hard I try.
No one has ever looked at me the same way since.