It's 10:00 pm on May 7th. It's been three years since the call. I still call it "the call" and feel silly about it - it's so dramatic and I don't really care for drama - but I don't know how else to name that moment when I learned your ship had been lost.
The scrapbook with the articles about the crew of Flying Colours sits to my left with the vigil flier on the cover. It's been haunting me all week and I still haven't opened it. What's the point? I've memorized the catch phrases that litter the various articles and there's still no answer as to what happened to you. Maybe that's why three years later I still can't say your name without crying.
I was thinking about when we met yesterday. I was talking to my little sister about Phillip's Park, where Outdoor School was held in sixth grade. We had different teachers and different recesses, but ended up in the same group. We spent a week together learning how to use compasses, purify water, identify plants and animals. You were already well ahead of me, and most of the boys, in survival skills and we hit it off.
The first time I came over to your house I was greeted by two yellow labs, one of whom is still with us and was of great comfort at the vigil. Funny how your dog colors my memories of high school as much as my own. One of my favorite memories is watching you paddle the canoe around the Lake with Buster sitting at the opposite end. I don't have a picture of that. I wish I did.
There are still moments when I want to call you. Today as I left my office for lunch I almost walked over a squirrel. I laughed like I always do when a squirrel catches me off guard and thought of you. Remember that summer squirrels kept attacking you? You told me squirrels are not to be trusted. I haven't forgotten.
Someday I hope to have closure. I want to remember you, not you marred by tragedy. It's you I miss. We're all growing up and it hurts that you are not with us figuring out life. The last pictures of us together are from Bobby's high school graduation in 2005. (He had the biggest crush on you, by the way, but who didn't, right?) I keep trying to force KodakGallery to show you in other albums, but it only relents by giving me a picture of you in a picture.
So, I'll light another candle in memory of you, toss back a shot of Bahama rum in your honor, and have a good cry. Know that you are still loved and so, so missed.