There is so much they don’t prepare you for when you lose someone.
Truthfully, there isn’t a way to prepare, no matter the circumstances. Whether you knew it was coming or if it happened unexpectedly, the absence of someone from your world is felt in ways that are hard to communicate or even begin to understand.
We grew up together. Some families don’t have the luxury of being close, but our mothers were sisters who didn’t live too far apart, so it was common for us to end up at each other’s houses so much more than just the holidays. Just because you see someone all the time doesn’t mean you’re always close, though. Growing up, we rarely agreed on anything, though I flip through photos of us as kids where we showcased beaming grins, proving we still had some happy memories together.
As we started getting older, our differences were much more apparent. We had different friends, different hobbies, different interests altogether. You were athletic and loved to run around with friends. I couldn’t shoot a basketball to save my life and stayed in the house with a book. You were quick with a sarcastic comeback, and I was quick with running to tell mom when you hurt my feelings. You carried an attitude of not caring what anyone thought or expected of you. I lodged around the heaviness of caring what everyone thought of me, all the time. The only things we seemed to share were a love of ramen noodles, the belief that your little brother and older sister were some of the coolest, funniest people around, and that the Jones Brothers album “A Little Bit Longer” was actually pretty fantastic.
The older we became, the easier it was to relate, or at least not fight with each other. You would sit in the driveways of our family get-togethers and discreetly smoke a cigarette. The entire time you would tell me I was never allowed to smoke- “it’s so bad for you.” You’d do the same thing when you’d curse, or tell a story of something you knew you shouldn’t have done. You would laugh when I pointed out how hypocritical it was. You would shrug and say, “It’s too late for me, but there’s still hope for you!”
Once we were out of high school, we ran into each other less and less. Yet when we saw each other again, we also didn’t argue as much. Sure, you’d still get in a sarcastic quip about something I said, but you also had conversations with me. You and I weren’t suddenly super close, but you did hug me the last Christmas before you were gone. If I had known I wouldn’t have seen you again, I would’ve insisted you stick around longer. I would have hugged you a little tighter.
Something they don’t prepare you for is how often you think about what could’ve been for the person. I wonder now if you would’ve been married, had a family. If you ever would’ve found a job you liked. If you would’ve stuck around the town, we grew up in or if you would’ve ended up somewhere else. I also wonder if we would’ve been even a little closer.
I don’t know how close we would be, but I like to think we might be more now than we were back then. Because since you’ve been gone, I’ve said a few curse words. I’ve dated people that I know you would’ve absolutely roasted during the holidays. I think you would’ve teased me mercilessly over going vegan, but I would be slightly redeemed because I still eat ramen noodles from time to time. I haven’t been to church in quite a while. I think we might’ve truly bonded over that. Your older sister and younger brother are still the funniest, coolest people around. I saw the Jonas Brothers in concert last year, and I wondered if you would have teased me for it, or secretly been a little jealous.
I still haven’t smoked a cigarette, though. I promise.