Today was a beautiful day. As my son and I are leaving the park, my cell phone beeps. It’s a text from Justin, whom I haven’t heard from in months. My former best friend, little brother, partner in crime. For no apparent reason, he asks whether I had ever gone up to see our friend Kevin’s memorial since it was installed, a few years after the funeral. I hadn’t, so he suggests we meet up at the cemetery so he can show it to me. After all these years, I still have a soft spot for our fallen friend. So even though I have Bren in tow, I agree. I really don’t know what to make of the invite. Is this an olive branch for the argument I thought we had already forgiven each other for? Though I went to the wake and the funeral, I had never gone to the cemetery. It felt closed off to me, somehow. Like I would be invading uncharted territory, or like crashing a private party. So I stayed away. But now not only was I going, I was asked to go by the one person who I had perceived to have drawn the boundary lines in the first place.
Even though him, his wife Caitlin and I called an unofficial truce the day of the wake, things never were the same. My relationship with both is careful but uneasy, and a shadow of what it had been. I now know very little about the life of the girl who I spent more time with then my own family. It’s been years since I’ve shared a sick joke with him, one of the few people I have ever met who can out-gross me. I have never seen their baby. The few times a year we all do get together, it feels stifled and slightly tense. If Kev hadn’t died, would we have even bothered with each other again? And who had decided that they should call me to tell me the news, him or her? These are questions I will never ask.
When we meet, I finally understand. He is sad. Four years later, and he is still misses Kevin like it happened yesterday. He is willing to share his grief with me, and through it, share a bit of the friendship we used to have. He rightly assumed that I still think about Kev, still talk to him in my head and send emails to his now defunct MySpace account, and still laugh when I see something he would have thought was funny. How much of him I see in my college friend Jarod. How I still tell people the story about how he got so drunk he threw up on my hallway carpet, then Jesse, who was taping the evenings drunken events for posterity, gave him an impromptu interview while he still had puke hanging off his chin. Or how I remember that New Years Eve the four of us spent in his kitchen; the night Caitlin and Justin began. Her presence is missed so much it hurts. Where is she? Why couldn’t she be here too, to make the scene complete?
We don’t talk about our mutual understanding, or even much about our friend. We briefly talk about our respective lives; he tells me what its like being married with children, and I confide how afraid I am for the big move. In true Justin fashion, he’s non-judgmental when he comments on the fact that I have a new boyfriend every time I hang out with him. I finally admit aloud that I am not a “boyfriend-type girl”, and probably never will be. The truth doesn’t always have to hurt, especially once you have accepted it.
My son does well for a while, but quickly becomes bored. When I decide its time to go, Bren hops in the car while Justin and I stand quietly outside it, staring off in the direction of Kev’s grave. It’s now 6 in the evening, and the sun is slowly making its way towards the horizon. It looks like something out of a movie. I tell him that I wish things would have been different. He doesn’t need me to clarify. I give him a hug and thank him for letting me be part of this, so once I leave I wont have anymore unfinished business. He gives his famous smirk and says half-jokingly. “Now you can watch me walk off into the sunset”. I do. I get into the car and watch him slowly recede until the sun swallows him up, and my eyes burn with tears. Six plus years since the insane chain of unfortunate events was set into motion, and I finally feel that I have his full forgiveness. And how appropriate that it should be granted to me not 100 yards from the memorial of the one remaining link between me, him, and her.
Liliana Grace is Secret Laboratory‘s Women’s Affairs editor; her dream job would be sitting on her patio all day, drinking margaritas and alternating between reading and writing–and once she was sufficiently drunk, getting a massage from one of her several hot man servants. Visit Ms. Grace at http://ouischbabe7.blogspot.com/
Email Ms. Grace at email@example.com.