Written By Rodlyn-Mae Banting
*I wrote this piece in loving memory of an old friend who passed away tragically and unexpectedly this past summer. Frankie was always amazed with the wondrous experiences the world had to offer, and this spirit of adventure allowed him to have such profound happiness in the final moments of his life. Though one month has passed, the simultaneous sorrow and love we continue to feel each and every day have proven the unique strength of friendship and love-- bonds that not even death can break.*
It’s been one month since you left us.
It’s been one month since you left us, but it still feels like yesterday. Hearing the news. The disbelief that followed. Skimming through half of the article before breaking down in tears. Scrolling through your Facebook page through dozens of condolences and last wishes. The constant whisper of “this can’t be happening” that ran frantic laps from my mind to my mouth and back again, for hours on end. The texts exchanged with your closest friends, most of them filled with apologies for something that was nothing close to any of our faults.
It’s been one month since you left us, but I can still remember everything that happened the week leading up to our final goodbye. The solemnity that pooled in the spaces between us as we gathered in front of the church, dressed in black, feet shuffling. The tightness in everyone’s embraces as we held each other close, with you at our center. The numbness that reverberated amongst us as we stood outside after the service, with absolutely no idea what to do or say. Kevin crying in Marcos’ arms, saying, “This is so fucked,” and everyone knowing it was true. Your mother, sitting in the front pew, wailing, “I want him back,” and all of us wanting it too.
It’s been one month since you left us, but it doesn’t hurt any less. Before I left for school, I went to go visit you at your final resting place. It was odd, showing up at a cemetery to visit a friend. I didn’t think it’d be something I’d have to do for a long while. A terrible anxiety came over me as I walking into the office, gave your name, and received a map and directions to where you were. In that moment, I wished you were still a text away, not an entire world. A man asked me if I needed any help. “I’m trying to find my friend,” I said weakly. Over the last 30 days, a lot of us have been trying to find ourselves—ourselves without you.
It’s been one month since you left us, but know that not a day goes by that you do not cross our minds. When I finally found you, I was overwhelmed by the amount of flowers that were already there for you. I choked back tears as I read the notes that others left you—how much they miss you, and how lost they feel without you. Sitting there in the mausoleum, I wished that I could tell you one more time that I love you. I wished that I could tell you how much you mean to me, and what a positive impact you made on my life. I wished that we could all just have one more day with you.
It’s been one month since you left us, but I know that you’ve made it home safely. I saw it in the shooting star that flew across the sky the night of the service. I saw it in the warmth that spread across our town like a wildfire, as people who haven’t spoken to each other in months came together to celebrate the beautiful life you lived. I saw it in the way your friends were there for each other, spending endless nights together in order to make sure that no one was alone. I saw it in the unity and genuine love that came out of this tragedy. All of it shined with the same light that I always saw in you.
It’s been one month since you left us, Frankie, but you will be in our hearts forever. No matter how much time passes—be it months, or be it years—that will never change.