As I returned to school, I ran headfirst into the realm of a thousand triggers. Memories of all the events I went to with my friend. Memories of our time spent studying together. Memories of our inside jokes. And while I’ve dealt as best I can, I’ve also realized I had stopped thinking about him as a person and started considering him something that happened to me—which isn’t fair to either of us. I wasn’t able to attend his funeral or any of the memorial services so here, as we approach the anniversary of his death, I’d like to remember him here.
A week and a half prior to his last day on this earth, we went shopping. He owned one pair of jeans and they were…not great. I’d taken him to the mall, and our first stop was J. Crew. When we got there, I asked him what style of jean he wanted. “There are different styles?” he responded, marveling. I laughed at him and found four different options in his size, and he picked one immediately after trying it on. “This is it.”
Afterward, we wandered around the mall. He walked with a slow easy saunter, and I tried to slow down my often frenetic pace to accommodate him. We talked about classmates we admired over pumpkin spice lattes. He was always calling people “wonderful”. “Skye is wonderful.” “Sarah is wonderful.” “Your parents are wonderful.”
I cut our time together that day short so I could go work on class assignments. I still regret it.
Still, we shared so much in such a short period of time. When classes had first started, I had proofread his pun-heavy personal statement for a class election, laughing as I read. We were then fast friends. He helped me learn to care about marketing, and I broke down statistics for him. He cheered me up when I needed it, and I calmed him down when he needed it. I felt stronger and safer knowing he was there.
He had a big smile that would often start creeping across his face when he was being intentionally obtuse, and a deep voice with an exquisite timbre (it was easy to remember why he had majored in Vocal Performance). He would often hum quietly, a tune just for himself. He laughed easily and would throw his head back—I sometimes felt this was intended to make the joke-teller feel good.
He so deeply wanted others to be comfortable and happy, often to a fault. One of our first serious conversations was about his social anxiety, and how cognitive behavioral therapy had helped him. He worked so hard at everything, and building relationships was no exception. He cared deeply for so many people after a matter of weeks into the program. He wouldn’t have left such a big mark if he hadn’t been so involved in so many of our lives, but he was, and he did.