Monday, May 12, 2014

I Will Never say Goodbye.

It was 1984, in fifth grade, when my best friend, Tara, slipped away on an early brisk September night. Tara lost her battle with cancer. At times, I wondered if she simply gave up. However, albeit selfish as hell, I did not want her to go, at the same time, I cannot blame her though.

I felt guilty as hell because I prayed for her as my mother suggested, but something went drastically wrong.
For the past year, she was constantly sick and she lost her long jet-black hair, so I cut mine to be like her; so she would not feel alone. Because I will never say goodbye, and as far as I can tell we will meet again.

At times, during school, she quivered with anxiety, thus was shaken when alone at lunchtime. Seeing that I was her best friend the principal called me out of class, Tara had first lunch and I had second lunch. Her face lit up at the sign of my resilient presence.
I jumped rope with her; hoping to soothe her mind.
Later, after I shaved me head, students did not make fun of her anymore.
At the sight of my hairless head, she laughed hysterically, and then tears flowed down her face.
I wiped the tears away with my t-shirt.
Classy, I know.
Just my luck, she tried on a brush of her mother's blush.
That stained the hell out of my shirt.

Talk about an embarrassment that was utterly devastating. Thus, for the rest of the day, I walked around with red stains on my shirt. I would have done anything to get them out. And now, and now I wish I kept the shirt just the way it was; in my closet and to sleep with it at night, to remember her plush red face.
She grabbed my hand and said: "Thank you, Ben." Blushing, and most assuredly sweaty palms I simply said: "You are welcome, Tara."

It wasn't but three nights after that when in a loud and somewhat disoriented voice mom said, "Ben, we need to go to the hospital, Tara is well, she is going to a better place. So we have to say goodbye before she leaves." My mother never was good at explaining the truth.

I arrived just before she said her goodbyes. And.  As we walked through a dark corridor, for the second to last time, anxiety riddled my bones.  Up until then I had not seen the inside of a hospital; however, I saw the inside of an ICU room on the day she died, however.  At the time, I did not understand because when we arrived at her room, I saw the sun fade in the still of night and her life did the same.

I did not comprehend the gravity of the situation because she appears to be at peace as though if an angel, and she looks like she fell asleep. Tara gently whispered, "Ben? Ben, is it you?" For the life of me I'll never forget the way she opened her eyes and looked at me for the very last time. I said: "Yes Tara, it's me."

"Ben, I waited for you. I waited until you came before I slipped away. Ben, don't worry, Jesus will take care of me." I said, "Don't you dare say goodbye! Don't you dare do it!"

Something must have been terribly wrong because as her breath became shallow, and Tara's mother began to cry as she slipped away.

Although my shoes were untied, I ran to Tara's bedside, and I savagely pushed through the crowd of people that surrounded her hospital bed and wrapped my arms around her for one last time. She was cold to the touch and her lips, well; they were on the verge of turning blue. I kissed her cheek, held her hand; just like I always wanted to; and said: "I will never let you go. I won't say goodbye, Tara, I won't say goodbye!" Mom pulled me away apologizing to her family for my outburst, “But I yelled Tara, Tara, Tara, I will never let go! Tara, comeback Tara comeback damn you Tara, damn you. Tara!" While I made a scene kicking and screaming, people in the room turned their attention on me, with tears, everyone had tears streaming down their face, and said: "Tara's in a better place." But what did they mean about a better place? At the time, I did not understand. "You people always say that! You always say there's a better place, but no one has the guts to tell me where it is!" Shaking and visibly moved, Tara's mother hugged me tightly and thanked me for sticking up for her daughter, and for being her best friend. She said, "Tara loved you with all of her heart, she loved you." I quickly corrected her, "She loves me." As more tears began to flow, she agreed, "She loves you, Ben.

As we left, I thought I swear I saw an extra star shoot across the sky simply to tell me, this is not goodbye. On the way home, my tears traced I love you on the horizon. And that night was, unlike any other night, I awoke every three minutes just to remind me that this is not goodbye, I'll be seeing you when I get there. The taste of death equated to a catalyst without a facade.  Pt 1. 

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