Monday, December 5, 2011

Jessypt Week 81: Out with the Tide


Picture 1

Picture 2

Jessypt's Choice: Picture 1


Out with the Tide

Grief is a funny, fickle thing. Sometimes it seems as if it’s your best friend, wrapping you in a protective shroud and warding off the bitter sadness of memories you can’t possibly cope with. At other times it rips the shroud away, quick and fast like a band aid, baring you to the onslaught of emotions which you need to face and deal.

As I stand here, in the place where my life irrevocably changed three years ago, I know this is one of those moments. I want to ignore the way my heart aches for all the lost moments that we’ll never have or the guilt I still feel over not being fully present that night. I want to run. I want to stay. I want so many things, but more than anything, I just want my best friend back.

Slowly, I turn and walk. I ignore the way the water is almost brushing against my shoes and the way the wind whips around and jabs me with its icy barbs. I ignore the way the sand shifts beneath my feet and the harsh, salty spray in the air. Instead I focus on what should have been. Jen and I should have been celebrating the end of our senior year, going to prom with the guys, walking across the stage to the sound of our names and cheers from our families, and preparing to start our lives in Boston.

I shiver as a chill runs down my back and immediately tug on my hood. I don’t care that my hair will be in knots by the time I leave. I feel close to her here, even though this was where it all ended. With my hands shoved deep in my pockets, I trudge on, reliving our memories.

Her smile when I invited her into my treehouse when we were six.

Our first sleep over and the hours we spent watching Blossom.
Mike Gibson. Our first crush.

The day she told me her parents were getting a divorce.

The day I told her I kissed Steven Jensen under the bleachers.

Hours spent on the softball field.

The party. The bonfire. The drinks. The laughter that turned into frantic screams when we finally found her face down in the water.

I squeeze my eyes closed, trying to shut it all out, but it’s like a volcano that’s been churning and burning beneath the surface just waiting to explode. Now that the top has been breached, there’s no stopping it.

The guys pulling her from the water. CPR. The EMTs loading her onto the stretcher. Riding in the back of the ambulance, holding her hand and begging her to wake up. Meeting her parents and sobbing with them when the doctors said there was nothing they could do. The funeral. The flowers and words and numbness. The cemetery. The goodbyes.

And every day since, all the little moments that she would have laughed about and raged over.

Tears flow freely down my face, and I don’t bother to wipe them away. I need this. I have to let her go, let her rest, and move on with my life. I don’t want to, but I know I need to. She wouldn’t want me to be like this.

I glance at the water. It’s churning and dark, but as the waves rush up onto the sand and then slowly back out, I know it’s time. I pull out the two halves of our BFF necklaces we got when we were ten. The pieces still fit perfectly together, and I can’t help but smile at how we came by them - the school carnival, the goldfish ping pong toss, and about ten dollars.

My thumb brushes against the letters etched into the tarnished silver. The significance of the darkened metal isn’t lost on me, but I don’t pay it any mind. Regardless of all the downs in our friendship, there were three times as many ups.

I clench my fist and feel the edges dig into my palm. The hurt feels good, freeing, as I take a deep breath and finally feel like I can do this. With another squeeze, I lift my arm and throw them in the ocean. I watch for a second, knowing they are gone forever, just like her.

As I turn and make my way back to my car, some of the ache and heaviness I felt when I got here is gone. She may not be physically present in my life, but she’ll always be a part of me.