by Beth Saadati
“What I would give for a couple of days—a couple of days.”
~TobyMac, “21 Years”
Today. Thursday. August thirteenth. You were born on another Thursday, another August's same date. You were finally here, making that day lovely. And good. And right.
Vignette 1: I schedule my first-ever salon appointment at the beginning of this year. The price is outlandish. But I want to see your friend. She’s grown up. Beautiful. She cuts my hair’s broken ends. We talk about you, we talk about her. She says her fiancé is wonderful, they’re buying a house, they're planning a wedding. An invitation never arrives. I don’t understand why. Later I'll learn the ceremony was small, private, only for family. Maybe it’s for the best, because you should have stood by her side in the bridal party. And I would have cried—imagining what could have been—and wrecked the special event.
Vignette 2: Your second friend supports and encourages your brother and me. After fighting to overcome unforeseen health challenges that stump the country's top MDs, he takes the MCAT. He will study to be a doctor. He’ll follow your dream.
Vignette 3: I see your third friend at a graduation party. She approaches. She radiates joy. For a long time we talk about her college, her graduate-school plans, her study of art therapy as a tool for grief counseling, the great guy she’s dating. Later her dad tells us she visited your grave where she yells, cries, and finds more healing.
Vignette 4: Your fourth friend drives two hours, unexpectedly stops by for supper. We eat. He stays until nine. He talks about the hardship, the struggle, the reality of life. He hasn’t forgotten. He speaks your name.
Vignette 5: My phone pings. I check the text. An ultrasound picture with two words and two question marks: Guess what?? I burst with gladness for your fifth friend and his wife. I’m touched that he privately told me before publicly announcing the news. I’ll never receive a surprise ultrasound photo from you.