Thursday, April 17, 2014

For My Boys

"The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we'd done were less real and important than they had been hours before."

Rewind to this time last year. My YES Abroad Finalist status to Indonesia had brought a wave of boundless happiness and excitement at the future to come. I had been surprised with a proposal to Prom that brought tears to my eyes because of its perfection, and I had even found the perfect emerald colored dress with my mom. We had booked plane tickets for a family vacation to California, the first trip to Disneyland in my life. Everything was perfect. After five years of hardship, things were starting to feel normal. Better than normal.

On the evening of April twelfth 2013, my kitchen was flooded with she smell of popcorn popping in my beloved popper. That evening my parents and I were settling down to listen to the first YES Abroad conference call. My heart leapt with excitement while simultaneously feeling heavy with nerves as I watched the green-lit clock on the oven waiting for the hour to strike. As the clock hit 5:30 pm, I dialed the number to connect. I paused for a moment. Overcome by the joy that we together were feeling as a family, I looked to each of my parents with a grin. "Let's get this show on the road." My dad was just as ready as I was. 

Minute by minute flew by, my anticipation for Indonesia growing with every word spoken about the upcoming journey. My cell-phone in my hand shrieked at 5:38, signaling that an unknown someone was awaiting on the other end. "Should I answer it?" I looked to my dad, whose head gave me a nod. 

"Helllllllo!?" My enthusiasm came to a puzzled halt as soft sobs greeted me on the other end. 

"Hello?" I whispered again. Something wasn't right. 


"Yeah?" My brain ferociously searched itself for ideas of what could be happening. 

"Cody is gone." Everything stopped. My stomach dropped. Surely she couldn't mean my Cody. And what did she mean, gone? Cody was supposed to leave for deployment that morning to Japan. Obviously he was surely gone from Bozeman by now. My silence posed the question that I couldn't speak. And her returning silence was the answer my heart couldn't fathom.

I have lost two crucial pieces of my puzzle over the past three years. Pieces that no matter how I hard try, I will never be able to replace. There are countless days when my body's entirety feels like its drowning in grief- as though to carry on with grace without my two best friends is less probable than the eight planets coming into perfect alignment. There are days, weeks, months, where every corner of my brain is flooded with their memories, voices, and stories. There are seconds where I question my strength, my momentum, my courage... Because those two boys provided both. 

But then there are days at the beach. Days where the sun's rays radiate a little bit of their spirits into my own. There are days when I meet a newborn boy named Luke or Cody, and their small smile reminds me that for every life taken, a new one is born, and what a beautiful truth that is. I live for the days when shared stories unify the people that have been touched by the souls of these two outrageous, courageous, young men.

Through their lives, and through their deaths, Cody and Luke left me with boundless knowledge and grace that my heart alone wouldn't have been able to find. It's because of these two that I strive. Everything that I do, the person that I want to become, I do it for my friends whose time was cut far, far too short. I loved them yesterday. I love them today. And I will love them forever, just as they have relentlessly done for me. That's all that my heavy heart has for now. Don't forget to tell your friends and family that you love them.