he had the bluest eyes i've ever seen and tons of freckles which, of course, at 5-years-old, was very fascinating to me. i had lots of springy curls that he loved and in kindergarten freckles and curls are the things friendships and true love are made of, and so thus a great bond was formed. we were "boyfriend and girlfriend" for years. we went to school together. we went to church together. i loved being around him and thought everything about him was great.
his mom is the sweetest person and she thought we were the cutest. she called me "chatterbox". brett used to tease me all the time about how much i talked. i would get so mad!
in the 3rd grade, one of our friends wrote him a note that said, "do you like kristen?" and it had a yes and no with boxes next to each word. brett wrote definitely. i remember in the 4th grade he decided he wanted to be jessica's boyfriend. i was devastated but i didn't want to stay mad at him so we could still be friends. i hated her for that. he never wanted me to be mad at him. that was true all the time. i would get mad, not talk to him and he would beg me to forgive him.
we sat next to each other in every class. we were being extra talkative and laughing out loud one day in 5th grade math class. i remember it so clear. it was the first day he'd been back to his old self because things had been a little rocky at his house that week. later that evening, my mom told me that brett's father had shot and killed himself that day. it was a terrible time. brett had been so close to him and i thought he'd never be the same.
we were a close bunch of friends, though and we rallied around him. it was difficult but, he got through. his mom and his sister were all so loving and supportive of each other.
brett was so funny and sweet and sensitive and popular. he was very athletic. he played basketball and baseball and he played well. he was so charming and was beautiful. he was smart and he loved his mama.
on august 21, 1994 brett, his 17 year-old cousin and his friend, also named brett, nicknamed "red", decided to rent a movie. they called the video store to hold "reality bites". it had just started to rain, just a little and then stopped. the three of them piled into mandy's little white car and took off. mandy was driving, brett in the passenger's seat and red in the backseat behind brett.
i was at my neighbor's house, sitting on the porch swing. it was a saturday and we were talking about boys and one was coming over. this girl was 2 years older than me, 15, so she had real dates and stuff. my little brother comes running over and tells me that brett is dead. it's not true. i look up and see my dad walking over and then stop. i start walking over towards him, knowing in my heart something must be going on
i'm smelling that damn boy's cologne everywhere. it's obsession. it's choking me. as i reach my dad, i tell him no. he just gently leads me back to the house. i walk into the front door. i collapse inside as i hear the unmistakable sounds of my mother sobbing. she is wailing. no. no. no. my whole family is there. they all believe it. we have to fix this. no. no. no. i don't know what to do with myself. i hate it. i don't want this. this is not the way it's supposed to be. i feel a sense of urgency that i've never felt before. i gotta do something. do something. no. no. no. no. i need to stop this.
it's so blurry. the details. that night, we went to his house and a bunch of us laid in his bed. i remember that. i remember his mom. and mandy's mom. it's the most unnatural sounding grief. but, she was so good to us. she loves us and knew we were drowning in the misery and the hugeness of the situation. in the years that followed, she stayed close to us because it helped her. she came to my bridal shower. i cried.
i have dreams of brett. i think of him all the time. i will never forget him and i will never get over it. i loved him. i love him still. it was an innocence that does not apply in life anymore. i thought he was perfect. he will always be young and sweet and beautiful and innocent. my life would've been empty without knowing him and like the song, "the dance" i know that i could've missed the pain but i'd a had to miss the dance. and there was a dance. one i'll never forget. and i wouldn't have missed it for anything.
happy birthday, freckle-face
Labels: personal essay