I slowly brought the car to a stop. I sat there just looking at the door. After all these years, I knew every crack – every chip in the paint – every smudge of dirt that now created its character. Memories flooded my mind. It was so long ago when we first met. You were so scared having just moved to town. You knew no one in your new high school. I sensed your uneasiness and introduced myself – letting you know that if you needed help getting around, I would be glad to help. We soon developed a great friendship – one that would see you through new relationships, broken hearts, successes, failures – I was always there. And when you got sick – I was the one who convinced you to go see a doctor.
The tears. I will never forget the tears as you told me it was leukemia. The treatment seemed worse than the disease itself. I did my best to make you laugh but toward the end, I just sat by your bed and held your hand. Your parents seemed to appreciate my willingness to stay close since all your other friends seemed to have abandoned you. I knew they just did not know what to say or do – staying away just made it easier on them. But I just couldn’t leave you to face this alone – you needed a friend – I had to stay.
Your parents called in the middle of the night to tell me you were gone. That’s when I finally allowed my tears to flow unchecked. And in that moment, I realized that I loved you – and I never told you – and now I understood the pain you endured – a pain I would live with the rest of my life.
So, today I sit outside the mausoleum where you were laid to rest just as I have done every year on the anniversary of our first meeting. I exit the car and shuffle toward the door. I place flowers on the step, wipe a tear from my cheek, take a deep breath, and walk away.
As I start the car and put it in drive, the same song I have heard for years plays in my head. I pull into the road and sing.
“I’ll go to my grave, loving you…”