I was lying in bed, almost asleep,
then the words started coming,
my heartbeat quickened,
my eyes flew open
and I knew…
it was time.
Time to write about Brian.
But where to begin? How do I begin? How do I go back to being 8 again? I can only try.
I remember the big hallways. It was all brown somehow. It smelled like pencil erasers, chalk, teacher’s perfume and someone’s turkey sandwich. I wore brightly colored clothes, two pairs of socks scrunched down on top of one another and a side pony tail. I was small. I was skinny. I was a prime target.
But I didn’t care. I wasn’t scared. Because I had a job.
I took that job very seriously. It was more than a job, it was a friendship. And I took it seriously.
Brian was small too and skinny.
I remember his smile. I remember his hands. His shoes that looked too big for his small body. I remember loving him.
I remember walking into class each day of second grade wondering if he’d be there. I remember where he sat, where I sat just across from him.
I remember being angry that his seat was in the back. It should have been in the front. Why didn’t the teacher move him to the front?
I remember the stares. I remember my arm somehow encircling him, protecting him and staring back even harder. Why did they do that?
I remember his jokes. Him laughing. Me laughing. He would flip his eyelids inside out to make me scream. And I would.
I remember wishing he could come out on the playground. The days he could were the best.
I remember taking him his homework, walking into his room, him lying in bed. Smiling. What did we talk about? Did I tell him how much I loved him? That I wanted to always be there for him. That it would be ok. Did I hold his hand?
I remember my mom’s face. It looked tight. Sad. Something was happening that I didn’t understand. Did Brian know?
We were going to get married. Of course we would. I loved him. With all my heart. I wanted him to be ok, to get better. I just knew he would.
He did get better.
I remember when Mom told me. I was in her room. I think she had been crying. “Brian’s gone to heaven, honey,” she said. Does that mean he’s better now, I wondered. Then I cried. Had I ever cried that much before?
I remember the church. I sat with my classmates. I didn’t understand and was a little scared. There were priests in long robes saying things I couldn’t understand. There was crying. I was so, so sad.
I remember the grave site. I saw a flower on the ground and I picked it up. It wasn’t real. This didn’t feel real. I wanted to go home.
I remember school wasn’t the same anymore. There was an empty seat. No one stared. There was still laughing. Kids playing. It didn’t seem right. I got the chicken pocks.
I missed my friend. He had gone to heaven. He was better now. I was glad, but I still missed my friend.
to be continued…