Today is your memorial and I can’t be there because it’s 2,000 miles away. And to be quite honest, I probably wouldn’t have the guts to show up anyway. When people die we tend to glorify them and all the good times. And I love having those memories to look back on, but we had some pretty bad times, too. I think that’s why I’m having such a hard time with accepting that you’re really gone. Forever.
The story of how we met will forever be my favorite. Mostly because I think it’s hilarious! And I know you did, too. It’s been four years now since we first “encountered” each other, back in the ol’ Tinder days. We matched but unfortunately you were just passing through St. Louis for the night on a bachelor party trip. So we never met up, but we did decided to follow each other on Instagram (I’m pretty sure that was your idea). Over the next two years we liked each others pictures and left a few comments here and there. Commenting the heart eyes emoji was your favorite and I’m not going to lie, it boosted my confidence when you did.
Like I said, we did that for about two years until you popped into my DMs while I was on my birthday trip to Disneyland. Surprise, surprise! You had moved to Long Beach and I was only about 30 minutes away from you! I never told you this, but the funniest part was I had just passed by Tinder’s office in LA right when you messaged me. Full circle! So we made a plan to meet up, for the first time, in real life. We were both nervous that the other was a Catfish… but we proved each other wrong. Because there you were! Right in front of me with your bright red hair, tattoo covered body, wearing your gray t-shirt with the black sleeves, a black snapback, shorts and your black vans with the white laces. You were the same dude that I saw in all your Instagram photos. A little taller than I was expecting, but I wasn’t going to complain! I never asked you what your first impression of me was.
The first night we met was quite a funny little fairytale, hilariously taking place at Disneyland. So of course we decided to meet up again the next night! They’re two of my favorite dates and it was the real start to our friendship. During our second date we downed a pitcher of Stella, talked about everything under the sun, and you encouraged me to follow my heart and move to California. Even though I was still on the fence at the time. I remember when you dropped me back off to find my friends I said to you, “well, I guess I’ll see you on Instagram,” and you looked me dead in the eyes and said, “nah, I’ll see you in a few months, Megan.”
A few weeks later we were FaceTiming when I told you that I had officially decided to move to California. You said to me, “I told you so. Oh, wait. Am I supposed to act surprised?? My bad. YES!! YOU’RE MOVING TO SAN DIEGO!” You were such a smart ass. That call was when we had one of my favorite and most memorable conversations. You asked me if I was religious. And it gave me the opportunity to answer with the most truth I have ever spoken. This is what I told you:
“I don’t like the label ‘religious’ because it makes me think of people who throw bible verses down your throat for every situation. But I am a Christian. I try to follow in Jesus’ footsteps every day the best that I can. And every day I fall short because I am human and I am a sinner. But that doesn’t stop me from waking up the next day and giving it my best shot all over again.”
You told me you had never heard anyone talk about religion that way. Every other description sounded “too political” to you, so you said you always just stayed out of it. I never tried to push my beliefs on you and you told me you liked that. And I liked that it sparked your curiosity. I had hoped that we would be able to talk about it again, in the future.
You were my first friend in California. One that I had made on my own. You supported me and when I felt lonely you told me everything was going to be okay and that you would come down to visit as soon as you had the chance. We hung out when we could. Which wasn’t often. When we were together, you liked to tease me for being “an old lady” and I liked to poke fun at you for being a child and riding your BMX bike. The last time I saw you, I teased you about getting a “real bike.” A motorcycle. I loved motorcycles. They were always beautiful pieces of machinery, to me. You told me that you were saving up for a badass Harley. It had to be all black, of course. I just laughed and said that when you got one you owed me a ride. When I dropped you off, I didn’t know that would be the last hug we would share. Because after that trip we started fighting. Too many feelings got involved. We had been up and down for the last year and things just kept spiraling downward.
We had some really great times together. Too many to share. Or maybe I’m just selfish and I want to keep them all to myself. But as much as I want to glorify all of our good times, we had some really, really bad times. You are the only person to ever make me question my reality. We fought about things that will forever remain between us. Unfortunately, that’s how we left off: mad as hell. Blocking each other on every social media platform. Even now I find myself frustrated with you. I still question why. Why was this destined to be our story together? And how come your story had to end so quick and abruptly? I wasn’t done being mad at you! And we never got to work things out! Because I know eventually we would have been friends again in the distant future. But that future is no longer an option.
Of course as girls do, I would check up on your social media from time to time. Having two Instagram accounts is good for that… And even though I was still mad at you, I always cared about you. I liked knowing that you were doing okay and that you were happy. I saw you got that motorcycle you talked about. And it was all black and beautiful. I saw that you were still BMXing. And last I had checked, that you still had a little more room left for a few new tattoos. Every time I checked on you, I thought about reaching out and apologizing. But I’m such a stubborn person. It’s not one of my best traits. But quite honestly, so were you.
April 9th, 2017 is the day you died. But I wouldn’t find out for two more days until my friend texted me and told me you were dead. At first I was frozen. Then, I cried harder than I could ever remember crying before. How could you be dead?! You couldn’t be. This wasn’t real. I told my friend that she was lying to me. That you were one of those invincible people. You couldn’t just drop dead and die at 25! I couldn’t believe it. Sometimes I still can’t. How could you be dead?! How could this happen?
My very last words to you will forever haunt me. They were: Grow up. I had typed them out in the last text I would ever send to you. Grow up. I have never truly understood the meaning behind that saying about “eating your words” until now. Because that privilege has been taken away from you. You will forever be 25 years young. I regret saying that to you and I’m so sorry. And I regret ever encouraging you to get a motorcycle because that’s what killed you. That stupid motorcycle killed you because the other vehicle involved didn’t see you. I know you still would have gotten one even if I had never teased you about it. But, I hate that the words left my lips. Now, every time I see a motorcycle I only see a giant killing machine. A death trap. When I close my eyes, all I see your bike split in half.
For weeks I prayed and hoped that it was instant, for you. That you didn’t feel any pain and that you didn’t even realize it was happening. Unfortunately, when I finally found your accident report online, that was not the case. Seeing the picture in that news report tears my heart to shreds. During those weeks I wondered why we were put into each others lives. What was the point? To ultimately bring pain to one another and then for you to be taken from this earth? It seemed all so painfully pointless. But then it dawned on me. It had to be because of our conversation about Jesus. It has to be, right? There’s no other reason that makes sense to me right now. I hope somehow His name found its way into your mind that night. I pray that you accepted Him before your number was called. Because now you know Him better than I ever will in my time here on Earth. I know in my heart that He greeted you with open arms and He took all your pain away. I hope you know now that He has been by your side your whole life, not just during your accident.
You lived more in 25 years than most will in a century. I almost said “lifetime” instead of “century” there. But the word “lifetime” just doesn’t seem to make sense to me anymore. Because what is a lifetime if yours was so short? Who can really measure that anymore?
You served your country. You survived the harshest conditions a person could be thrust into. You went on adventures and brought others along on your journey. You were a great son, brother, and friend. You were a dedicated student. You were spontaneous. You made me a stronger person for knowing you. I will live the remainder of my “lifetime” trying to live up to the standards I once told you about. Not only to honor my God, but to honor your life.
You will be greatly missed. Rest in peace, my friend. Because no matter what we had put each other through, we will always be friends.