November 9, 2003
Hey there girl! You know what? I was thinking about you last night when I was out playing Mission Impossible with my church group. I was planning on calling my dad up and asking if he had your number so that I could call and talk to you. I thought that because while playing the game I fell down a hill; just like I did this year at the Reunion while we were playing flashlight tag when I stayed the night.
You remember the reunion? It was a blast! I'm so glad that I finally stayed after you asked me to for about five years. The first time I remember you begged me and kept on begging until I finally said that I would this year. Wasn't that mud fight fun this year? Even though my dad did break it up. We were going to do it again next year though, and find a way to keep my dad away from the pond. Only we were going to be on the same team because that way we would win and not tie.
Being on the surfboard was a classic of course. We kept stealing it away from the other little kids so that we could be on it. Of course we continually tipped it over and fell into the water; but it was fun all the same. Playing Marco Polo was fun too; thanks for making me keep playing even after I was crying. You know why I was crying and swam out to the raft to help me get over it. I told you thanks for that one but thanks again anyways.
And at night you, me, and that friend you had with you (I cannot remember her name!) sat on the swing set and just talked for at least an hour. We also went and sat around the campfire where all of our adult relatives were drunk beyond belief and toasting things like "Stop, drop, and roll."
"Hey Jess," I said. "Someday we'll be the adults there and our kids will be the ones sitting here, laughing at us."
"That will be funny Katie," she said to me. "And I can't wait!"
We slept in your little tent and were crunched pretty close together. That girl was on the far left, you were in the middle, and I was on the right. We listened to your Dixie Chicks CD, the one with Landslide and fell asleep after playing a few games of UNO. Oh yeah! I almost left out the blast we had watching the fireworks go off. With the adult men (who had drunk one too many beers) setting them off it was great.
The next morning my dad came and got me around eight, right after we got up. You were standing on the opposite side of the table when I came up and said, "Hey Jess, my dad's here now. So bye and I'll se you next year."
"Bye Katie," you replied sleepily, we were all tired. I think we got three or four hours of sleep. "I'll see you next year."
"Right," I called back over my shoulder. "Next year. And this time I'll be staying again!"
"Cool," you said, turning back to your pancakes. Wait, I think I hugged you good-bye but I am not sure. I was really tired. But anyways those were the last words I ever heard you say Jess.
Let's get back to the present. On November 8, 2003; the night I played Mission Impossible I came home and sat in my chair. Then my mom said, "Hey Katie, your dad called and said that you need to call him back. He did not sound very happy."
"Can't you call him?" I asked, I was tired. Running around like a maniac for two or three hours does that to you.
"No he said, 'Have Katherine call me when you get home. So you call him." Then she handed me the phone and I dialed dad's number.
"Hi dad!" I said. "So what's up?"
"Well," he said heavily. "I have something to tell you."
I got a feeling then, a bad one. Like the one I half-had when I thought about you during the game. I thought that it was something about deer camp though, like maybe we couldn't go. Oh how I wish that would have been it! "You know Jessica?" he asked. "Jessie, from the reunion?"
"Of course I do dad!" I said with a laugh. "I hang out with her every year for the entire day and I spent the night with her at the last one. I'm going to again next year."
"Well, uh," he said. "She passed away tonight."
BAM! That hit me right between the eyes like a ton of bricks. I felt my blood turn to ice and my chest tightened. "No," I whispered. 'Yes,' he said. "You're LYING!" I screamed as I threw the phone down on the ground. Then I buried my face in my hands and began to sob.
I heard my mom ask, "Katie? Katie? Katherine what's wrong?" She picked up the phone and asked, "Richard why is she crying like that?" Then I stumbled up out of the chair and ran to my room. I slid down to the floor and then I laid down on the floor, sobbing; weeping. I couldn't stop the tears tearing out of my eyes. My eyes hurt, my entire body hurt and my mind was screaming. My mom came in and held me.
"IT's not true," I sobbed. "He lied, she's not dead! She can't be dead!"
"It is true," she told me calmly. How could she be so calm? "It's okay." It's NOT okay! Don't touch me get away from me let me cry in peace! You didn't even know her, how can you say that! My mind was screaming at her but my throat was closed tightly and burning.
I climbed into my bed somehow and got my hair out of its ponytail. I slept in my jeans and shirt. I cried myself to sleep and when I woke up my pillow was wet as was my face. I dreamed that you were alive Jessica. It was a great dream. I went to the hospital and you got up and we spent the day together. But in the end you were dead again and in your coffin. God Jessica why did you die?
I cried off and on for the past day and a half now; after my three-hour sob fest. I pray that no one in school asks me how my weekend went because it will remind me. I don't even have a recent picture of you. Just in my mind and memory fades. I do have a picture of you when we went to my Great- grandpa Clayt's 50th Wedding Anniversary, a year before he died. In 1997, I think. You were only eight or nine and I was nine or ten. But it's you and, like me, your face didn't change all that much. All you did was get older and taller.
Tears are welling in my eyes again; I hope no one looks over at me. Jessica were you saved? Where are you now? Heaven or Hell, honestly I don't know. I don't want to think about thought; anymore then I want to think about God. Whom I am extremely angry with now. How could he let such a young girl die in such a horrible way? You were only fourteen, going on fifteen! A car accident; internal bleeding. Why you?
I wish it had been me Jessica, not you. You'd have taken news of my death bad; just like I took news of your death bad. It's selfish to wish I was dead; I would suffer no pain but others were. Dying is a selfish act sometimes I think. The dead don't feel pain at their deaths while others do.
I'm sorry Jessica, I'm sorry that you're dead and that I didn't get to say good-bye. No one got to say good-bye to you. It must have been so scary to be flipping over in a car and you must have screamed. But they say you were in shock at the end and maybe then you weren't so scared. You died without anyone near you, didn't you? I'm sorry Jessica, I'm sorry.
We won't be having that mud fight next year and I can't stay the night with you again. We won't watch the fireworks again and we won't laugh together. You'll never be at another reunion and you'll never see us again alive. And Jessica; you'll never be an adult sitting around the fire toasting stupid things like 'Stop, drop, and roll' with me and everyone else while our kids giggle behind our backs at us.
You were too young to die Jess, way too young. You were only fourteen, nearly fifteen. It would have been better if I had died, after all I'm sixteen. I got to drive, you didn't really. You were far too young Jess, far too young.
You'll never get to do half the things I do but if I could I would turn back time and call you Saturday and talk to you. I'd warn you and you might even listen and not die. Then I'd always call you and we'd hang out more then once a year. I was going to call you Saturday but when I got home I got a call about you. And do you know what?
I can't call you because you're dead Jessica. Dreams don't come true and you won't be at the reunion next year. I have to go to the viewing and then the funeral. Dreams don't come true and time won't turn back. God does not answer prayers and you'll still be dead. I'm going to miss you Jessica, and I swear to you that I'll never forget you. I swear on my life and everything else that I'll never forget you.
P.S. It may sound stupid but I always liked the name Jessica and do you know what I am going to name my firstborn daughter? That's right Jess, I'm going to name her Jessica and her nickname will be Jess or Jessie.
((That's the letter I wrote to my cousin, who is dead. If you think it's insane because I wrote to a dead person then you try being in my shoes. I was angry and sad; and this way I know what I was thinking.))