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Thank you, Brendan
Four months have passed by, and the thought of him and the memories we made together still plague my mind. There are times where I feel as if I can’t go on, shouldn’t go on without him, but I always do go on, without once looking back as I step through the darkness. I never imagined I would be familiar with that hollow feeling of losing somebody I love, the one people describe in movies and books, but I now know it very well. People insist I’ll forget, that it was purely puppy love and I’ll learn to move on. They persistently attempt to convince me that I’ll somehow get over what happened, but they don’t understand that this remains an impossible feat.
This was not “puppy love”; it was something much more than that. The most irrevocable kind of love can’t even begin to be compared to what he and I had together. He was my soul, my rays of sunshine, my addiction; he was my everything. I can still feel the coarse texture of his glistening chestnut hair, slightly drooping down in front of his eyes, the same emerald-green eyes I remember sparkling in the sunset while he laughed.
And oh, the way that laugh used to echo through me. Never again will I feel his strong arms wrapped gently and tenderly around my waist, hear his soft voice whispering in my ear. All these things I thoughtlessly took for granted had been taken from my grasp, stolen by death and time. The nostalgia of our relationship clouded my every thought, pulling a black sheet over my very being, tainting the world in my eyes.
We fought relentlessly the night of his death, as we both carelessly assumed it would be an uneventful night filled with the same montage of people and repetitive arguments. Neither of us would have ever dreamed what would happen in a mere matter of hours.
It was the summer before he would leave for school, a big, state college in Dallas, and the ominous date of his departure grew increasingly closer with each passing moment. Everyone knows the perpetual temptation of college girls, and with me only about to be a senior in a small-town high school, I was progressively losing confidence in the state of our relationship. I allowed him to drive home alone in the middle of the night, in my own, selfish anger as we yelled and screamed at one another. He was getting tired of our bickering, and I don’t blame him for that.
I also don’t blame him for the drunk driver who ran a red light at 75 miles per hour, hitting the driver’s side of his pick-up truck and instantly killing my boyfriend of two and a half years upon contact. He’s gone now, my love, my boyfriend Brendan, and there isn’t one moment that goes by that I don’t hold complete and utter blame for it. We were together for a long time, and now I can’t even think of Brendan’s name without feeling my soul burn, my lungs deflate. My sight is tinted with red flames, and I can no longer see the light.
But I am slowly getting better, which is quite the comfort. When you’re in such a state as I am, you cling to anything as seemingly insignificant as progress. I no longer burst into tears at the mention of Brendan’s death, I can drive past his house on the way to school without having to pull over. I no longer have to depend on my therapy to pull me through to the next day. A slow smile spread across my face as I realized I was doing the unthinkable; I was recovering.
“What are you so happy about?” my mom teased, interrupting my thoughts of enlightenment. She joked about my smile, but I could see in her eyes that she was idyllic in unusually failing to see the typical glazed-over expression painted on my face. She shook me back to reality, to the realization that I had twenty minutes remaining before school started, and I was still downstairs in my pajamas.
“Oh, nothing,” I sighed. “Only memories. Why didn’t you tell me it was so late? Now I have no time to get ready!” I shouted down to her jokingly as I scaled the stairs leading to the hallway two at a time.
My bedroom is an eyeful; with papers, pictures, clothes and drawings scattered in all directions across the floor. I happen to be an artist, and I suppose with a right-brainer comes a chaotic workspace, which, coincidentally, is my room. I hurriedly grabbed an abandoned shirt and pair of jeans from the floor and changed outfits. By the time I made it to the bathroom to freshen up, I overcome with nausea.
I ignored the feeling and continued brushing my teeth, but my stomach ultimately took over my mind power as that morning’s breakfast hit the sink. How ironic; I had finally brought myself to eat again after Brendan’s death, and my stomach rejected it. I had even started to gain weight again.
My mother insisted that it must be the stomach flu, and I tried skipping school and sleeping it off to help me recover. Unfortunately, neither of the two proved to be a success. On Thursday, my fourth dismal day out of school, I got a call from my best friend Daisy.
“Christina!” she breathed into the phone. “I’m so glad I could get a hold of you! The past couple of times I called, there wasn’t an answer. I was prepared for the worst…”
“Oh, I’m sorry Daisy. My phone must be on silent, and I haven’t looked at it in a while. I’ve been really sick. I keep throwing up; I don’t know what’s wrong with me…” I looked at my cell phone beside me on the nightstand, and sure enough, the screen displayed three missed calls from Daisy.
“Oh, that’s terrible, you must feel horrible.” Daisy never failed to express her sympathy. “Well, anyways, you’ve missed some crucial gossip, girl.” She was clearly being sarcastic; we always made fun of the gossipy-types.
“How will I go on?” I joked half-heartedly. “That’s okay though, I’ve been busy puking my guts out every morning, so, you know, I’m slightly preoccupied for the time being.” The other line held silence as I deliberated whether or not Daisy had hung up the phone. Finally, she spoke again.
“Hold up,” Daisy started. “Didn’t you say you’ve been gaining a little weight lately? Plus you have “morning sickness”? There is no way you’re dense enough to not realize what that sounds like…” There was a long pause as I bit my lip in thought. I couldn’t believe what I was considering.
“There’s no way on earth…” I let that sentence fade as panicky thoughts ran through my head, one after another. They crashed into each other as my mind tried to process each one, and failed. “I’m not pregnant.” I finally stated. “There’s no way. This is not happening.”
The statements were my only defense against reality, but deep down I knew the truth. The truth was that I was pregnant; I could feel it inside. Tears started cascading down my cheeks.
“Christina? Are you okay? What’s wrong, Christina?” Daisy was scared for me, and I realized she must have been waiting in silence for a while.
“Nothing’s wrong,” I whispered into the phone. “It’s just…I’m…” I took a deep breath as I prepared to tell Daisy what exactly had changed inside me. “I’m happy…”
In an instant, my realization turned me into a mother, a mother to the child I knew had to be growing inside me. Love instantaneously warmed my body, the black sheet once draped over me had now been lifted, and I could see clearly for the first time in months.
I burst into new tears, tears of joy, and I looked up with closed eyes, seeing Brendan: his face, his eyes, that infectious smile he had. I could hear his laughter again, I heard his whispers in my ear, and with them I could feel the warmth of his breath on my neck.
I was on the floor of my bedroom and on my knees, sobbing; crying out for the immense weight that had mercifully been lifted from my shoulders at last. Although the image of my love was crushing, devastating, it changed me. The memory of him was now special, joyful. Nothing else mattered in the world but my child, Brendan’s child, our child, and a feeling swept through me that I hadn’t met in a very long time: happiness.
Finally, I choked out through my salty tears, “Thank you Brendan.”
San Francisco, California
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