He came to my door holding a little green plastic alien. I don’t think I’ve ever loved anything so seemingly random in such a real way.
I want to be clear about something. These words are among my most vulnerable because they come from the place in my heart that is the rawest. To this day, I have difficulty remembering how life played out for a while after. My heart lurks when I realize that it has been a whole year. These words are here for the people who asked for them. Anyone else, I ask that you read them, choose to do with them what you will, & go on your way. These words are what they are- truthful- & I will not change them.
Trent was the first boy who chose to be my friend, and, at the time, it was probably just because we were both book addicts and our proximity in houses meant that we would be friends- the foundational premise for friendship when you’re little. And that was enough. That was enough for Trent to be the person I looked for at recess. That was enough for Trent to show up at my door with cookies whenever I had a sleepover. That was enough for Trent to stick around through very good and very bad. & for a person as shy as I was, Trent’s boldness made my world different. I loved him for that. We grew up as a part of each other’s lives, and I learned to love him for much more.
Trent and I used to fight. I think it was because we were both so stubborn, or maybe we had yet to figure out that there is a way, in this world, for two people to be right at the same time. Regardless, we would disagree as two headstrong hearts do. But I never worried that he would get too mad; it was never more than 24 hours before one of us showed up at the other’s door with some sort of peace offering.
One fight, in particular, wasn’t a fight at all. He told me he was moving to Seattle, and I remember thinking that I just couldn’t imagine graduating high school without him there with the rest of us. We’d write letters and make phone calls, he said, and this way, I’d have just another reason to get on a plane for an adventure. It wouldn’t be the same was all I offered in response.
& that conversation on my front porch drove a little rift between us. In retrospect, I think, because I was scared of the hurt of him leaving. Then, like clockwork, the next morning I heard the crash of a bike laying out on the sidewalk in front of my house. It was Trent, his fist balled up around something small. He came to my door holding a little green plastic alien, and that was what did it. That’s what made me realize he was actually leaving. I don’t think I’ve ever loved something so seemingly random in such a real way.
I took the alien and promised to look after it (There’s humor I find in the fact that my parting gift was full custody of that little guy.), expecting Trent to be a 6-hour flight away.
Now, on dandelions, on stars in the sky, at 11:11, I wish. I wish it was that short a commute.
Most of you know the rest of the story. Trent was able to stay. He didn’t move to Seattle. He stayed so that he could finish out his last year of high school with us (us being the people who were able to be his friends, his teachers, his second parents). And, here, I say thank you to the people I love who let him stay.
To the people who were there with me, I know I usually always have words but this–this is the one part of me where words don’t work to express the wrench of my heart.
One year ago today was the worst day (know that statement is not exaggerated). And it all started quite normal for me; the day began as a mess. I woke up late (not for school but for the time that my little sister needed to arrive at school), hurriedly prepped, drove to my spot in the A-lot. In the midst of taking my time to collect myself for the day in between dropping Maggie off and Mrs. Austin’s class, I poured coffee all over my top. I rinsed my shirt in the sink, dried it under the slow air stream of the hand dryer, and went to class perfumed in a freshly brewed latte. Serena and I made jokes with Mrs. Austin; homeroom lasted too long; yearbook didn’t last long enough. I went to the Warehouse for coffee, & I went home to paint.
I do not know what encouraged me to paint a lion, but I did (The same lion that is the logo to Roar). I had this canvas for forever. The white space bothersome and loud, I never felt like I had anything right to put on it. At some point, I’ll find words to write that express the lion, Trent, the reason for my existence, and the correlation between all three. But that’s not today. Because creating that lion was the last thing I did before my world inverted.
I don’t remember much of what happened, most of us don’t. And though I wrote it all down in a journal that sits on my desk, the point here isn’t to relive each little detail of what happened. Bits and pieces run through my mind but what was so prominent were the broken hearts of the people Trent loves. They were everywhere and constant. & I must say that even now, what is one year later, I know that most are still broken.
Our hearts were made to beat for so many days, minutes, hours. In that time, our hearts were made to withstand a certain amount of joy, of sorrow, of the realm of emotions that encompass our time on Earth.
There are no words I can say that will change the reality of what is today for you. I know that May 10 is the day someone was married to their best friend, the day someone held the hand of their little sister for the first time, the day someone said “I love you” to themselves and meant it. May 10, though, for so many hearts I love, is a day where we spent our last day with a friend, a brother, a son- Trent.
Good news: He knows I love him. He’s joyful. He’s whole.
Tough news: I miss him.
I can honestly say that my heart hasn’t healed from this, and though I know I’ll never understand the extent to which Trent’s life had impact on the world, Trent lived the life he was intentionally crafted to have. This, selfishly, is something I haven’t completely found peace with. I’m trying to be okay with that.
What I do understand is this: Trent was the first boy who chose to be my friend. We swam together at the neighborhood pool. He was the only boy ever allowed at my sleepovers. He rode his bike, walked if it was too snowy, and eventually drove when he had a car over to my house every Christmas Eve. We fought sometimes because we’re people. And we bought each other breakfast every time to signify peace. He was always the best midnight premiere movie date. And he was the friend who went to the grocery store with me so I didn’t have to go alone. We danced together at prom. He celebrated me, and I did the same for him.
His life is (Notice: is– not was.) a gift in mine. It is for all of us, I think.