For my creative writing class, we are supposed to write a letter to someone who has gone from our lives. With all the people I have known that haven’t stayed, I couldn't pick just one. So this letter is to all of you.
Let’s start at the beginning; let’s start young. I can’t remember the people as a baby, but I can remember from preschool. I had my first crush, on my best friend’s older brother. He was in first grade when I was four, so only two years older than us. On the last day of preschool, he gave me a kiss on the check.
So, to you, I say thank you. Thank you for seeing your little sister’s friend as someone who was worth humoring. Thank you for making me light up with happiness. Thank you for giving me a memory and a silly story.
In elementary school, past preschool, I met a friend. His name was Q. He had curly black hair, cut close to his head, and dark eyes. I never saw his skintone, but I can remember him being black. I remember in second grade I said, “Let’s hold hands.” I saw innocence in it, but he looked startled. “No, we’ll get in trouble with the teacher,” he said, “Remember in first grade?” I was so disappointed and no, I didn't remember, but I accepted the explanation.
Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you for making my mom forget skin colors for a while. Thank you for letting me see that people were people even though I didn't know it when I didn't care. Years later I still think of you fondly, I still miss you. You were a good friend.
R was a funny boy from Australia. When we went out into snow, he was surprised. “My boots are dry!” he cried. He didn't know snow melted. And I hung out with him all the time, T and D and him and me. In third grade he was going to leave, and I remember the last time I saw him. We were on a train in the Grand Canyon. We ran around and talked and caught up and reminisced and had fun. Until a lady said that there were unattended kids and we were being annoying despite the fact we kept to ourselves.
Thank you, R, for making me laugh and smile. Thanks for your accent and for being so willing to have fun. You were an absolutely amazing person when I knew you, and I have no doubt that you are an amazing person today.
I always fought with one girl. We were both bossy, and we wanted things to go our way. So we fought and fought to play the right games. But the next day, without fail, we would apologize. One time we fought before the weekend. She was moving. I never got a chance to apologize and say good-bye. But she left me a letter, written with her name, and it was an apology and a good-bye.
Thank you for the letter, Dee. Thank you for reminding me to swallow my pride years later and write an apology if I can’t speak it. Thank you for remembering me and for caring about me enough to give me the last bit of yourself I’d have. I've lost the letter now, but I still remember you wrote your name in large letters and in pink pen or pink marker and that you had made the envelope it was in yourself. I don’t remember your handwriting or your words but I remember the meaning. And that’s everything.
K and I would always play after school under the watchful eye of my mom and her grandmother. We would play extraordinary games. We went on daring adventures and saved the world countless times. We wandered through forests and freed animals from a zoo. We healed fatal wounds and got in epic swordfights. We fought off beasts and monsters. When she left, I cried. The last day she had, and I sat aside and cried. She gave me a stuffed unicorn as a good-bye; I named it after her.
K moved to another state. I miss you, my friend. You and I had so much fun, and you taught me more than I think either of us know. To take the chance to say goodbye. To not care about people’s ages or opinions but love them because they were people. You showed me the value of imagination, and thank you for coming into my life.
To finish off elementary school, there was C. C was a strange kid and a loner. But we played during recess, just the two of us. We played stories that were a little dark for two eleven-year-olds, stories about death and ghosts and revenge. But our stories always had happy endings.
That’s what you taught me, after all. That no matter how bad it gets, the stories always have a happy ending. There’s always a happy ending. Later I learned that you make your endings happy, but thinking of our happy endings gave me hope in the darkest of times.
D and I were friends. I've seen him a couple of times, but because of his mild autism his mother had him go to a different middle school. He was always so happy and I was so glad to know him.
D, you rock. Seriously. We really need to be friends on Facebook. You taught me the value of happiness. You helped me learn to make people happy. And thank you, most of all, for teaching me to accept people regardless of anything else about them.
I don’t remember everyone in middle school, and middle school is a time I would rather forget. But one way or another they taught me strength. So, thank you, jerks and assholes, for helping me learn to be strong. Thank you for making me doubt my religion so that I came back with a real testimony of the power of God. Thank you, in the end, for helping me see that I am always worth something even when the world thinks I am worth nothing.
And to the girl who probably still hates me - thank you too. I’m sorry you’re hurting, I’m sorry you felt that being mean was the best way to raise yourself up. But I was not some doormat back then, and in the end I remember the value of staying true to yourself. Thank you for teaching me that I’m not better than anyone else, while at the same time my compassion will always shine through. Thank you for letting me see that my greatest strength is in my love for others, no matter who the others are.
As a roleplayer, I am often on the computer. One forum I was on, well, I got in a fight. I said something mean, apologized, and the apology was never accepted. I was joking in the first place, but apparently that didn’t matter. But when he was making someone else feel uncomfortable, there was no way I would stand down. Ever. Even if it got me kicked off and only the person whose religion I defended still thought I was a good person and everyone else on the site thought I brought it on myself.
Thank you. Thank you for teaching me what it is to be a good role model. I do not pick favorites because that’s wrong, and you showed me that. Thank you for teaching me to be respectful to everyone, regardless of their beliefs. Making someone uncomfortable should be what got everyone upset, not me making a - sadly misinformed - joke and then defending someone else. So thank you for teaching me yet more about love and compassion. And thank you for standing by me, and showing that standing up for myself and others does result in good things - which I hadn't seen until then.
There’s so many people I never got to say good-bye to. These are the people who have died in my life, throughout all the times while I was dealing with the loss of moving and separation.
Scott, thank you for teaching me I’ll see you in heaven. You’re waiting for me even now, and I’ll be so happy to see you again. Thanks for letting your kids babysit me, and feeling like another uncle.
Grandma, thank you for teaching me the value of compassion to strangers. Thank you for your silly stories and your old hands and your warm nature. Thank you for teaching me that the world is my family if I treat them like one.
Daisy, thank you for teaching me loyalty and patience. Thank you for showing me that age is no excuse to lose enthusiasm, and that snow makes a delicious meal. Thank you for letting me know that my mistakes won’t stop people from caring about me.
Grandpa, thank you for showing me that words do not mean everything. Thank you for telling me you loved me without having the words to do so. Thank you for showing me that love can and will last forever.
Lacey, thank you for tolerating me. I put an eyepatch on you, put soap on you, and basically did everything annoying that a little kid could. And you just dealt with it. You never clawed or bit me, you went whining to my mom and then continued to love me. Thanks for standing on the footstool with me, and thank you for sleeping with me. Thank you for teaching me that love doesn't have to be loud to be real.
Mr. H, thank you for teaching me that there’s always time for being goofy. Thank you for, well, teaching me. Thank you for being goofy. And an all-around good person.
In my life I will lose more people. But I have learned that I can learn something from everyone. So I miss all of the above and wish they never left.
But I wouldn't be who I am today if not for them.