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Contemporary Coming of Age Sad

*A/N: I just read The Fault in Our Stars...leave me alone lol.*

The day she died, I knew I was a lost soul.

The moment the last breath left her body, I knew that it was going to be a long time before I loved people again.

The second she left, I felt a stabbing pain in my heart, and then nothing. Absolutely nothing.

***

I graduated high school with straight A's, even though I never studied for tests. Even though I spent all my after school time with her, running in grassy fields until dusk.

After she was gone, I lived life in dull colors. I no longer paused to watch a leaf flutter to the ground, or to watch the last rays of sun disappear behind the looming mountains. I tried to pretend I was okay, knowing I was anything but.

So one cold day I pulled out a notebook and a pen. The bare trees were outside my window as I wrote.

***

Monday: 1/17/2018

Dear Future Me,

I don't know how to start this letter, just like I won't know how to end it when I get going.

I guess I'll just start with what has happened since she left. I can't believe it's been four years already. It seems like just yesterday.

I don't like Subway anymore. It's crazy how the two of us used to go there all the time after school.

I watched this new show called Stranger Things. She would have loved it. I'm sorry that she didn't get to see it.

There was a solar eclipse last year. I watched it by myself, but I wasn't paying attention the way I should have. She would have been so pissed at me.

I've been out of high school for three years, and I'm slowly working towards a master's degree in drama. She always told me I would be excellent on the stage.

I thought I knew sadness. I thought that the gentle aching on the surface of my heart was all there was to it, something that could be removed through a kiss on the forehead by my mother.

I suppose that was rather stupid of me.

After she got sick, I didn't let myself think of the unthinkable. She was so strong, so powerful. The person least likely to get sick and die. But she did. She fought it for a long time, but one day her spirit died like a birthday candle, dragging her along with it.

I've always felt like I don't have a right to be sad about it. Her parents were destroyed and they moved away; I haven't seen them since a week after the funeral. If you could call it that.

She didn't want to be buried and have everyone wear black and be all "mopey". She wanted to be cremated and have a huge ash scattering party on Mt. St. Helens. She got very metaphorical and thoughtful after she got sick; we talked a lot about deep things when she was in the hospital.

She compared herself (and the cancer) to the volcano. She said there were warning signs that went away (or so people thought) but then erupted, taking those close to her (and the mountain top) with it.

I didn't realize how right she was until the funeral. We tried to have fun, but we were all too hollow. I got to throw a handful of her ashes into the wind. I had to throw the burned pieces of my best friend on the top of the symbolic mountain.

But sadness reaches a different level at some point; your heart sinks away and you feel so much that you don't feel anything.

She was more than my best friend. I'm trying to laugh thinking about her instead of feeling that numbness, and I'm only barely getting to that point. I try not to think about her sunken face and bluish eyelids. Instead I try to remind myself of her splendid hair, the color of a raven's wing. Instead I try to remind myself of her laughter, which will always be my favorite sound.

One time a few months before she got diagnosed, she told me that she loved storms. So I asked her why. She told me, "I love how every clap of thunder makes your heart race and every flash of lightning makes you gasp a little bit. And afterwards it smells so fresh and the world seems brand new."

That was when I knew how important you were to me. We'd been friends on and off for years, but that was when I really knew.

You were more than my best friend.

So I kissed you and you kissed me back as the storm raged outside. And it was, and still is, the best moment of my life.

It's been hard to come to terms with your absence. Even now I still find myself scrolling through my contacts to send you a meme before remembering you won't ever see it. I still find myself turning my head when I'm walking and think of something before remembering only your ghost and the wind is with me.

The last text I sent you was "I love you". And the last one you sent me was, "I'll see you tomorrow." But you died that night. I rushed to the hospital as you entered your final minutes. I was there when your soul left. And I can't get it out of my head. Even after all this time.

I guess I've been running from these feelings for four years. Maybe that's why instead of writing "her" I started writing "you". Maybe I've been wanting to tell her this ever since she died.

Now I feel like I have. I've felt her presence with me as I've been writing this. She's been guiding the good memories through my mind as I tried to remember all the wonderful things that came of our friendship.

Now I can. I remember everything. I remember the fireflies and the popsicles and the hair blowing in the wind. Now when I think of her, those are the first things that come to mind, not her hands going slack in mine.

Now I'm smiling as I write this, despite the ink splotches dotting this page like fireflies at twilight. I'm crying, but these are happy tears. For the first time ever. These are the tears she deserves. She deserves to be remembered for the fireflies and the rain, not the cancer and the volcano.

So I'm going to give her what she deserves, finally. Maybe now I can finally be at peace. Maybe it will take some time, but hopefully I can do it.

I'm in the production of Romeo and Juliet at my college, I should have mentioned that. She/you would have been so proud.

Love,

Me

***

The crisp air of autumn blows on my face as I stand on the peak of Mt. St. Helens. This is where we scattered her ashes seven years ago. I came to burn this letter and return the words of devotion and heartache and hope back to her. She deserves them more than I do.

Her memory will always be bittersweet, but with more sweet with each passing day.

Taking a deep breath, I strike the match that is more than a match, the match that means acceptance and peace and hope.

May 14, 2022 01:32

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12 comments

Nandini Panchal
04:04 Jun 05, 2022

Lovely story! It makes the reader feel that they are inside the story!

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Pippin Took
13:32 Jun 05, 2022

Thank you!

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Katie Odom
16:15 May 26, 2022

There was a great build in tension from the start of the piece to the catharsis at the end, where the main character says they can finally be at peace. It's a very moving work. I was so swept up in it, I didn't notice the shift from third to second person until the paragraph where you mention it yourself. That shift felt like I as the reader was zooming in on the thoughts and feelings of the speaker, and by the end you had zoomed back out by returning to third person. I would say this letter is more to her than the speaker's future self, I...

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Pippin Took
21:26 May 26, 2022

Thank you so much! Haha, same. As I was writing it, I didn't even realize I had switched pronouns until I reread it and I was like "Oops!" This story honestly just flowed from a well that I didn't even know I had. I've never experienced a loss like this, or anything remotely close. I was thinking that as well. To me, it's written both for her and for the narrator. Thank you again for taking the time to comment!

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Havana Huen
14:17 May 21, 2022

This story is amazing! I love all the things that she said to him!

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Pippin Took
15:06 May 21, 2022

Thank you so much :)

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Anissa Waterman
13:56 May 21, 2022

Very sad and yet it gives the reader hope for the letter writer.

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Pippin Took
15:07 May 21, 2022

Thank you!!!

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Desiree Haros
13:31 May 21, 2022

Beautifully written.

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Pippin Took
15:07 May 21, 2022

Thank you, it means a lot!

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Spruce Popsicle
14:00 May 14, 2022

Oh. My. Goodness. This is amazing! I love this story so much. You captured these feelings so well. I feel like I know both of these characters now. Amazing job.

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Pippin Took
14:52 May 14, 2022

Wow! Thank you so much!!

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