I don’t remember the day we met. We always just knew each other. When you go to a small Catholic elementary school in a small town you just get to know everyone. I do remember, though, the summer we became friends. We were sixteen then and it was before the complexities of driving, sex, and relationships had really hit us. We spent many days together with EB at the neighborhood pool while she lifeguarded and we
distracted her brought lunch (Chipotle, usually, but you never ate a ton of it because you worked out and were on a strict diet to keep yourself in tip top shape for the Marines.) We talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly, and we mercilessly but lovingly made fun of you for your escapades with the East High School girls, especially TW. We joked about being three deep and about Mrs. Z yelling at us to watch the swimmers more.
When I introduced you to one of my best friends, CM, that summer, I knew you would like her. I did not know that she would end up being your first and that you would both develop feelings for each other. I’m both grateful and apologetic for that. I want you to know that she cared deeply for you and I’m happy that you got to know and love her. But I’m also sorry if she hurt you, or the way my friends and I discouraged her from pursuing anything more serious with you did. I’ll never know what impact that introduction had on you, but all I can do is hope that it was a positive one. I’m sorry that I urged you that things with EB would never work out. I should’ve told you to follow your heart no matter what.
But most of all, I’m sorry that I never reached out before I moved. I should’ve told you to come and say goodbye. I should’ve asked how you were. I should’ve made you meet with the Officer so he could’ve told you about ROTC or enlisting or how much potential you had.
I may have always been a year ahead of you in school, but you were only a few months younger than me and a lot bigger and stronger, and you liked to remind me of that as much as you could. I always admired you immensely for your commitment to your family and your country. I imagined the letters and photos I would send you once you enlisted. I loved how good of a big brother you were, because I have a good one too and I know what a blessing it is to have that.
Our friendship may have faded since I moved, but I want you to know that I’ll never forget you. I love you and I hope that you’re at peace. I am immensely thankful to have known you and been your friend.
EB said, “Some people just touch your heart in a way that can’t be forgotten.” You touched mine and many others.
Rest in peace, DJW. 12.16.17.