You loved chrysanthemums. When we were younger, you decorated your room in fake ones just because they made you so happy. You got rid of them as you grew older.
It’s strange how time has flown by. We grew up without knowing each other, but when we found one another, we were closer than two pine needles. How funny considering I hated you when we first met. I wonder if you often thought about my first words to you.
“Go away, I don’t want to talk to you.”
Of course, you didn’t listen. You hated listening to others. You lived off your own beat, and that’s what I grew to love about you. Over and over again, you would bother me to no end until I thought my head would explode. Every day, I told you to go away. Every day, you laughed it off and bothered me anyways.
Thank you for that.
If you had stopped back then, that day at the pond wouldn’t have happened. You were laughing so much as I yelled at you to leave me alone. My face must have been so red or something like that to make you laugh so hard. When I fell in? Forget it, you were done. When you jumped in after me? Well, let’s just say I realized you were someone who was never going to let go.
That’s what I thought at least.
We were so different. You were the star soccer player, the girl with the amazing voice, the top student, everything. Meanwhile, I was nothing. How did you stick by someone like me for so long? Whatever reason it was, thank you. You made my life from a living hell to paradise every time I saw you. You always knew what to say and when to say it. Even towards the end, when I should have been the one to comfort you, you always comforted me. Your warm smiles and hugs always made me feel safe.
Before that day, we had so many beautiful adventures together. If only I had taken pictures, but that’s your fault. You always yelled at me when I took my phone out. Although, near the end I didn’t want to take pictures even though your opposition grew nonexistent. I didn’t want to capture you in the state you were in. I didn’t want to remind myself of the inevitable reality.
Neither of us knew it was going to happen. Or at least, I didn’t. I couldn’t cope with what you were telling me that day, so what could I even say to comfort you? I spent as much time as possible by your side. Even when you were admitted, I spent every moment I could by your bedside. You hated the room you were in. It was too small, too stifling. So, your family decorated it with your favorite thing: chrysanthemums. You were just like one to me.
Strong, confident, beautiful.
It wouldn’t be a lie to say I hated life at that time. Why wasn’t it me? A girl who was nothing wouldn’t be missed compared to a star like you. You were supposed to become a star so bright you would blind everyone, not just me. I would’ve done anything if life could have chosen me instead. Still, you smiled through it all. You told me not to worry, but how could I not? I wanted to scream at you to cry, to be miserable so I could have a reason to feel horrible. I didn’t, because you were so strong for me. I had to be strong for you.
Like a snap of the fingers, three years flew by. Each day was so painful for you. Your family told me about how much you suffered when I wasn’t in the room. I never saw it, because you always smiled so brightly when I walked in. I wish you had shown me your vulnerability. I wanted to share in your happy moments yes, but I also wanted to be there when you were at your lowest. You were always there for me after all.
Come the end of my senior year, I think you knew what was going to happen long before I did. Was that why you looked so peaceful? You knew that your suffering would come to an end? You looked fine when I told you I was leaving for a month. You hugged me tightly and cheered me on. I still remember hearing your laughter as I closed the door to that stifling room for what I would learn to be the final time.
They told me it happened only three days after I left. You left in your sleep with a smile on your face. I can imagine it clearly because it just seems so ‘you.’ Still, I wish you had waited for me. I wish I had said goodbye. I wish someone would have told me sooner instead of having to hear a stranger at the reception break the news when you wouldn’t answer your phone. When I hung up, it felt like a part of me had left with you.
The first thing I wanted to do was call you again but I quickly realized no one was going to pick up.
I cried and screamed so much.
You were the only one who knew what happened to me and accepted me. You were the only one who stuck by me, who listened to me. The only friend to have really loved me.
I hated everything. Like the chrysanthemums that decayed rust-like into the void, I felt like I was going to disappear with you.
As time moved on though, I realized something. The people we love, our place in the world, who we are, will all one day disappear. The longer I dwelled on you, the more time I was losing. I will never forget you, but in order to live, I need to accept the abruptness of your life.
Time is unforgiving, but it has also made me strong enough to accept your absence.
Standing by your grave, I had a gift to give to you. You never knew this, but back when you were throwing away those fake chrysanthemums in your room, I took a few because they reminded me of you. I’m not letting go of you, but I’m not clinging to you anymore. You wouldn’t want that. The flowers I left on your grave may be plastic, but they hold as much meaning as any real flower. Turning away from your final resting place was so hard, but I finally get to say this.
Goodbye, Patricia. And thank you.