You told me that we would be together forever, but you lied. You said that you’d never lie to me and that you’d always be there for me, and now you’re gone. You’re in the ground, and I’ll never be able to speak to you, cry to you, or tell you how much I love you. I’m so mad at you Summer, but I forgive you. I just can’t forgive myself because I lied, I didn’t stay with you, and now you’re gone. There were so many things that I wanted to tell you.
Our last conversation was so normal:
Hey babes how are you?
I’m doing fine, just swamped with homework and working on my capstone, and you?
Oh…Uh just going with the flow, you know me living every day as if it’s my last.
Summer, you always say that, just remember to take care of yourself okay?
Yeah, yeah I know. I’m going swimming so gotta go babes.
Okay, talk to you later.
I’ve gone over that conversation a thousand times since your passing and I just don’t understand. I don’t understand how you could sound so…normal and you knew…you knew you weren’t okay. Why…why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you ask me for help? Why didn’t you say “summer I need you here with me”
God do you know how I feel! How upset I am at you, at myself! Do you know how badly I wish I could go back in time and save you, from everything but especially from yourself?
I still remember it, you know? The day I got the call from your mom.
The day started perfectly, I was so excited to have finally finished my capstone project on the effects of childhood trauma on the adult body. I had been working on it for months, interviewing people, and addressing my trauma and I finished it one week before our birthday. I wore my best dress, took myself to my favorite diner, and got a large order of fries with “zap seasoning” and a medium chocolate cake milkshake. I felt so peaceful and found myself wishing that the day would never end. I went to the library and stayed there for a few hours before heading back home. I was only home for five minutes before I got the worst call of my life.
Riiiinnnngg……Riiiiinnnnngg……Riiiinnnngg. That’s weird I think to myself because hardly anyone calls my house phone. I take off the purple coat that you got me for my birthday before putting down my bags and walking down the hall to my house phone. The phone starts ringing again and I look at the caller's I.D to see who it is. I didn’t immediately answer because I didn’t recognize the phone number, so it went to voicemail. Not even a minute later the phone rings again and it’s the same number.
Who the heck is this?!? I say out loud before deciding to answer the phone
Summer: Hello, may I—
Mrs.Matthews: Oh god Summer, she’s gone, she’s gone
Summer: Mrs.Matthews are you okay?!?! What’s wrong? Who is gone?
Mrs.Matthews: Summer is gone…..
Summer: Gone where?
Mrs.Matthews: Sweetie Summer killed herself they found her body in the lake.
I don’t remember anything after she said “Summer killed herself”. Everything went black, and I couldn’t believe what I heard. How…how could you be dead, you were only 23 and filled with so much life. How could you have killed yourself, when you sounded so happy when we spoke to each other?
Your mom called my mom after I stopped speaking, she knew how close we were and she was worried that I would hurt myself. It took my mom thirty minutes speeding on the highway to get to my apartment, she used the spare key that I gave her to get in and when she found me I was inconsolable and wouldn’t stop screaming “it’s a lie”
The next few days are a blur to me, one minute I was at my apartment in Denver, and the next minute I was on a plane back to Georgia then I blinked and there I was standing in front of your casket surrounded by your family. You looked beautiful, but then again you always looked beautiful to me.
Seeing you laying there looking so peaceful, almost as if you were sleeping pulled me out of my dream like state.
Your mom made sure that you were buried in your favorite dress. I still remember buying that dress for you last year, I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to find a gift for you in time for our birthday. I had searched for weeks and racked my mind on what to get you and then one day when I was walking around downtown I saw it. A small dress shop called “Jane’s Boutique” I had never been there before but I was so desperate to find something for you that I took a chance and went in.
After looking around the store for thirty minutes I was starting to feel like I had wasted time because nothing that I saw “fit” you, and right when I was about to leave I saw it. Tucked away in the very back of the store were two dresses; One sky blue tulle dress with a ruffled skirt and flutter sleeves and a lilac version of the same dress.
I was instantly drawn to the dresses because they sort of looked like homecoming dresses, and I knew that you didn’t get to go to homecoming so I thought it would be great for us to have a homecoming; just the two of us.
I was so wrapped up in my memories that I didn’t notice the tears that were streaming down my face until I felt your mom’s arms wrap around me. Can you guess what she whispered in my ear?
She whispered “Summer loved you more than anything”
I couldn’t help but question that, because if that were true then why did you leave me, even though I was standing there at your funeral looking at you I still couldn’t understand how this happened. After your funeral, we all went back to the hotel, and your mom came up to me and told me that she wanted to talk with me.
We went to the park, you know the one that we would always go “monster hunting” at. Mrs.Matthews hesitated a lot before speaking and I could see the pain that settled deep on her face.
Mrs.Matthews: Sweetie did Summer tell you about her diagnosis?
Summer: Diagnosis? What diagnosis?
Mrs.Matthews breathed in sharply before answering: Summer had depression
Summer: Depression? But she never mentioned it or even seemed sad on the phone
Mrs.Matthews: I think in her own way she wanted to protect you from it.
Summer: Protect me how?! I was her best friend, I should’ve been there for her, I let her down I said while choking back sobs
Mrs.Matthews: Honey you didn’t let her down. People with depression think that they are being a burden to the people in their life and that can cause them to hide it.
Summer: I thought that she knew that she could never be a burden to me, I would’ve done anything for her. I would’ve run to her if I had to.
Mrs.Matthews: I know baby, I know and she knew too. You both had such a special relationship, and I’m sure she knew that you were always on her side.
Summer: I just don’t get it, why couldn’t she have told me how she was feeling? Heck, the last time we talked she was so excited to go swimming…..wait….Mrs.Matthews when did she die?
Mrs.Matthews hesitated before speaking: The autopsy estimates that she died at 4:30 pm on Thursday.
I dropped to my knees and just sobbed in your mom's arms. The realization came crashing down on me that you took your life twenty minutes after we talked.
Over the next two weeks, your mom visited me every day to check on me and make sure I was alright, and each time she came we would sit and talk; about you, your life, everything.
I’m not going to lie and say that I wasn’t hurt by all of the things I learned about you. I thought I knew everything about you but the more we talked, the more I became aware of how little I knew about you. Out of all of our conversations, one resides in the dark space in my mind. The same space where I lock all of my pain and hurt.
Summer: Why did she have depression and for how long?
Mrs.Matthews sighed: My relationship with Summer's father was very turbulent, and plagued with abuse. I left him and thought that it would fix everything, but I was naive. I knew how abusive he was to me but I never imagined that he would abuse Summer, especially in the ways that he did. I didn’t find out about what had been done to her until she was seventeen and by that point, he had already died so she never got justice for what happened to her.
Summer: Don’t tell me he…..
Mrs.Matthews: Yes he hurt her in the worst way possible, he made her feel unsafe in her own body and caused her to feel disgusting and dirty.
Summer: Why would she feel disgusting!? It was that sick bastard that was disgusting, she was perfect she couldn’t have been dirty even if she tried. She was everything good in this world.
Mrs.Matthews: It doesn’t make sense to people like us, but for her and people that have survived assault it’s sometimes hard for them to feel like they are worthy after being taken advantage of.
Summer: I just can’t understand how anyone could do that to their child.
Mrs.Matthews: I can’t understand it either but do you wanna know something? You saved her.
Mrs.Matthews: I still remember the day that she came back from summer camp raving about her new best friend and how she had saved you from a bully. I had never seen her so happy about anything as I did that day. I think that a part of her just wanted someone to be there for her and you were there and became everything to her.
I couldn’t speak after that, so we sat in silence and comforted each other. I just wish that you would’ve shared your pain with me, I wish that you knew that nothing that happened to you was your fault, I wish you would’ve known that to me you were perfect and that no one could’ve told me otherwise.
I was so hurt when your mom came to my room carrying three books on grief because it made it clear that you had already decided that you were tired of fighting but I wish you knew that I would’ve gladly fought with you. After that, I decided to stay at your house, and your mom let me stay in your room and a part of me felt like you were still there. I knew that it wasn’t healthy for me to put all of my emotions on her because she was dealing with her grief so I started journaling and it helped to momentarily ease my pain.
You always loved my poems and always asked to be my muse so I wrote a poem for you but can’t seem to finish it.
Summer love, summer blues, summer seasons filled with you, with all my love I held so dear, my summer joy no longer there, our days so long but also short…
That’s as far as I got…I just can’t find the words. It’s ironic, isn’t it? I practically spent my entire life with you, enmeshed in your very being sharing a bond that was stronger than steel itself, and yet now…It’s like I can’t find the words. I can’t put all of my love into words without them spilling out and forming an incoherent mess.
I’ve read all of the books that you left for me. “Surviving grief” “Thriving through grief” and “Healing a grieving heart,” They all say the same things. It’s always about thriving, healing, surviving, and releasing but what about living? What am I going to do now that you're gone? How am I going to live without you? Without my summer?
It was always us. The two summers; Summer Joy and Summer Love. It’s like we fit…you completed me and I completed you. You existed in every aspect of my life, and without you, it feels like I can’t breathe. As if I’m drowning in a pit of grief and no matter how hard I try to fight it I just sink deeper into it. I feel shackled by those three words.
I remember the first day that we met and the rich smell of dirt and moss. On June 3rd, 2008 at the “Blackcreek Summer camp for special kids” I was so upset that my parents made me go to summer camp. I had never been an athletic or sociable child and I knew that my parents hated it, they hated that I wasn’t as outgoing as my sister Autumn, they hated that I was the “sensitive and quiet” one, and they hated that I didn’t have any friends. I hated that I was being forced to stay there so I cried—in front of everyone which paired with being much smaller than the kids my age quickly made me a target for bullying.
Sadly I was used to that; Used to the harsh words, cruel comparisons, and deafeningly loud silence. After the first day, I was shunned, bullied by all of the kids, and given the nickname “cry baby summer” by an older kid named Marshall and no one helped me not even the counselors.
On the fifth day of camp, Marshall tried to force me to eat a bug while everyone else laughed around us and I just cried because I knew that I wasn’t strong enough to fight back so I shut my eyes tight and prayed for someone to help me and then you suddenly came like a hero to save me. Do you remember what you said because I do, you said “Don’t touch her you pig-faced ass”. I was so shocked by that because I had never heard anyone use language like that especially not another kid and then I heard something being thrown followed by the sound of people running.
“Are you alright, kid?” you asked me and after a while, I was finally able to stop crying and answer you “Yeah I’m okay, but my name isn’t kid!” I shouted surprising myself and I was certain that you would be upset but you weren’t.
“Okay, what’s your name? you asked with a small smile and inquisitive look on your face
“My name is Summer, what’s your name? I answered and saw your face instantly light up
“My name is Summer too! What’s your middle name? You asked while practically jumping in excitement
“Love. My middle name is Love” I answered bracing myself for a negative reaction because that’s what happened every time I told people my middle name usually followed by “wow that’s such a cheesy name”
“Really? That’s a nice name, my middle name is Joy” and the rest was history, we became best friends from that day onwards and you helped me learn to love my name in its entirety.
Reminiscing on that day now brings a tear to my eye because I didn’t know that I had found my soulmate after almost being forced to eat a bug.
After staying with your mom for a while I finally went back to my apartment. I didn’t want to leave her but she told me that she was okay and that she would call if she needed anything from me. It sounds cheesy but I genuinely feel like a part of me was buried with you, but I also feel a strange sense of peace knowing that now you forever have a piece of me.
Grief is such a mysterious thing because it sneaks up on you, one minute you’re fine and another you’re sobbing on the ground. It causes a blurring effect because days turn into weeks faster than you can even comprehend. They say that time heals all wounds but I just think that time allows you to process those wounds but they don’t heal in the way that people say they do. They form scars that reside with you for the rest of your days, and a cage in your heart. I’ll carry your memory with me, stored in the cage and I’ll fill it with all of your favorite things because now you permanently reside in my heart. I’ll keep you safe there until the day we meet again and I can tell you about all of the things that you missed out on, give you all of the love that I collected along the way, and we’ll laugh like we used to.
Guess what? I was able to finish the poem I wrote for you and found the courage to say it out loud. I wanted to visit your grave and read it to you but I don’t think that I’m ready for that, at least not right now. I’ll just read it to you here.
Summer love, summer blues, summer seasons filled with you, with all my love I held so dear, my summer joy no longer here. Now with days cut short, I’ll carry you in the end, because you were my one and only best friend, but I have to tell you my beautiful Summer born in a world filled with blue, I wish I could’ve told you that I was in love with you.