Live Again

By: Colleen Ryan

I woke up crying again today, but it's not like it's never happened before. After so many lonely mornings, and empty feelings, you'd think I'd be numb to the pain, but you can't get over this pain. It's too strong, because I loved you too much.

Yes, it's possible to love someone too much. It's possible to love someone with ever fiber in your being and then fade away once they're gone. Believe me, I'd know.

I wonder if you still remember me, if even in death you can recall all that I did for you? I held your hand when you cried, and gave you warmth when you were cold, but you did so much more for me. You completed me, you made me whole. We were like pieces of a puzzle, with each other we made the picture whole, but take away one and the picture blurs and falls apart. I've fallen apart, and I'm waiting for you to pick me up.

I can't see your face without pictures anymore, and your voice is disappearing. It seems that not only life has separated us, but time as well, creating a void too big to cross. You've become water without realizing it: the more I try to hold onto you, the more that slips from my grasp. I can barely remember the day we met, but it's still there. I'll hold onto it for as long as I can because I need to keep it alive, I need to keep you alive, even if only in a dream.

It was the first day at my new school, I had just transferred in halfway through my freshman year and I had no idea where my first period class was. There was no one to help me so I panicked and ran. I ran down those narrow hallways carelessly and I paid the price for it, too.

I didn't see you standing there with your girlfriend at the time, so I didn't realize that you were there until I crashed into you. Now that I think of it, it's ironic that I was the first to fall, but that is something I'll explain later.

You were sent to the hospital with a slight concussion and I never made it to first period that day. I followed you to the hospital to make sure that you were all right and then I sat in your room waiting for you to wake up. I don't know why I felt the need to stay in the room with you; all I knew was that I needed to be there when you woke up.

I didn't know who you were at the time, but I don't think that that would have changed anything. It might have slightly, I might not have gone to the hospital right away, and maybe everything would have changed, but I think that the story was still the same. The way we loved each other was written in stone, and not even the rain could wash it away.

I don't regret going because that would be like denying myself the pleasure that I felt when I was with you, because if I never knew you then I never would have known what true love was. Still, adults – namely my parents- question whether or not what I actually felt was love. They believe that I was and still am too young to know, but when was it written down in history when it was appropriate to know when love was and wasn't?

Love isn't a feeling you can explain with petty words in a cheap paperback romance novel; it's not that happy feeling Stars feel when the get themselves a new boy-toy, or a lover; it's none of that. Love is a feeling you can't describe, because it's impossible to.

Love is about reality and the pain and suffering it takes to actually know what it is. It means sacrifice because one day you're going to lose the one you love, yet you stay with them knowing that you'll pay the price someday. Love is when you find yourself wanting to do something you hate just to see them if only for a second, but there's something more important about love. The question isn't 'Do I love him?' but 'Is it worth it?'; if it's what got me to you then I believe that it was worth it, even the pain that I feel now.

In that hospital I think I began to love you as I waited for you to wake up, it's just one of those unexplainable things in life with no definition or meaning. It's just there, waiting for you to realize it.

It took you fifteen minutes to open you eyes, and during that time a few of your friends had showed up. When they all saw me they were open with their disgust, I mean, what was a new girl, a loser, doing in your room? Your friends were the beautiful people that every school has, some aren't even that pretty, but they're still part of the elite.

You opened your eyes and immediately put on that face I later learned to be your mask, the one you always painted on until the rain washed it away. You laughed at the jokes, and did the high-fives still in your bed, and smiled the whole time. You were so used to that face that it looked real, even your eyes, devoid of the true emotion, pulled it off. Then you noticed me.

You asked me what my name was and why you didn't recognize me, and I was afraid to tell you the truth. You were probably the 'king' of the school, and I was afraid you'd yell at me; call me stupid. But there was something in your face that made me tell you the truth, that I was the one that made you fall. You stared at me for a few seconds, your face quiet and stoic, until you finally smiled and thanked me for coming.

You turned your attention away from me after that and began talking to your friends, but every now and then you'd glance my way, just to make sure that I was still there. One by one, your friends began to leave, and as the last person left I began to go only to be called back by you.

"Hey," It was all you said, but it made me turn around to face you. You had no idea how you affected me, with your golden hair and piercing blue eyes and flawless skin. It was like some cliché love story, and I was apart of it.

"Hi," I said shyly back, playing with my hands and not meeting your eyes.

"You know I'm not mad at you, right?" You asked and your eyes searched mine. "It was an accident, okay, and I'm not going to bite your head off for it so relax and don't look so scared."

"Okay," I answered back simply again.

You gave me a good natured smile and began to tease me about my one word sentences, and I noticed that your eyes never wavered. When a gorgeous nurse walked in to check up on you, you never looked at her. You kept staring at me as if I was the only person in the room, and that made me feel happy. Happy that someone cared about me.

Once your family showed up I left, I didn't want to stay any longer and my parents would be worried about me. So we said our good-byes and I went home to slightly angry parents who grounded me for 'skipping' school even after I told them what happened.

After that eventful first meeting I never expected to talk to you again, so it was a big surprise to me the next day that you stopped me in the hallway. It was even more surprising to your girlfriend Stacy, who looked at me in disgust and jealousy. I didn't get that seeing as she was dating him at the time.

It continued, too, everyday you talked to me even if it was only for a few seconds. It seemed as though, unintentionally, we became close friends in that hospital room. Though for better or worse is still undecided.

It was a few weeks after you came home that I began to see you differently, though I'd always known you were handsome, but I began to see how beautiful your eyes were, and how your laugh made me blush. I thought of you a lot, day dreaming during class, and was anxious to see you everyday. Some people would call it a high school crush, and I would agree, but it led to something much more powerful.

For months I crushed on you, and I think Stacy began to notice it because she kept taking you away from me. She would make sure she was with us when we hung out, and she always kept his attention in school, but she wasn't there for the phone calls, or for the lunches. Even though you were a Junior and I was a Freshman, we were the best of friends.

It was a week before the end of school that everything between us changed, we were going to a movie with some of our friends and you were picking me up. After the movie you drove me home and we sat in your car and talked for a long time before we realized we had been sitting outside my house. I turned to say good-bye but I caught your eye and I couldn't move. I was frozen in place as you leaned forward and gently pressed your lips to mine.

It was a chaste kiss, barely lasting more than two seconds, but it sparked the fire between us. I remember I rushed inside and went to my room after the kiss and I sat on my bed and stared out my window, wondering if you were thinking of me. It was a Friday night, and all through the weekend we didn't talk to each other, not on AOL or on the phone, so it was understandable that I was nervous for Monday.

When we saw each other in the morning, it was like people could see right through us, that something had happened between us. Stacy wasn't around and I later found out that you'd dumped her over the weekend and that she wouldn't be anywhere near you anymore.

Soon enough our friends left us alone and we were both nervous, I mean everything between us had changed by that simple two-second kiss. Where were we standing with each other? Or even more importantly, were we still going to be friends?

Then all of a sudden you smiled at me, and leaned forward to whisper these words in my ear: "What are you doing this weekend?" With that you kissed my cheek and practically ran away from me as the bell rang, but I just stood there stupidly, blushing like mad and holding my hand to my cheek.

We started to date that weekend, and we had one of those relationships where everyone around them knows they're going to get married. We worked so well together, and all during the summer and through the next year we were inseparable. We fought yes, but we only were angry for about five minutes before we started laughing, we didn't do the mushy-gushy nicknames or apologies, we kept it as real as our friendship had been. That's probably why we were so good together.

And you became my other half that I couldn't live without, because even to be away for a weekend hurt me. It's probably why I was hurt so much once you were gone, I didn't know how to be without you. It was that that destroyed me.

It was the day of your graduation, me leaving my sophomore year and you entering college, that everything for me was destroyed. You were up receiving your diploma and full scholarship to the University of North Carolina for basketball when you suddenly collapsed on stage. You didn't get up, either.

We rushed you to the hospital as fast as we could and we waited about forty-five minutes in the waiting room before the doctor came to talk to us. His words haven't even begun to fade in my mind, they're still there echoing in the back on my mind; they're destroying me slowly but surely each day.

"I'm sorry, but your son has cancer and he won't live past five months."

I felt nothing when I went home that night, I hadn't even been able to see you, and my parents words of comfort and support were lost in me. They didn't exist, all that existed was this void that was my heart, and your face in my mind.

I went to see you the next day, and even though you didn't say it, your eyes showed me everything. You were afraid, you were sad, and you were guilty. I wanted to hold you in my arms and tell you not to feel guilty, but just seeing you made me fall to the floor and cry the tears I hadn't cried yesterday. You weren't able to get up and hold me so I walked over and laid down with you in your bed.

"Shhhhh, it'll be okay. I'll make it okay, I promise, I'll never leave you." You whispered in my ear over and over again, until it became a fact in a bibliography of you that has yet to be written. But it was your voice and only your voice that comforted me because no one else could.

During the summer we did all we could together, and you bought wedding rings even though we weren't going to get married. "To remember me by, and so that I'll never forget you." You'd said, but I could never forget you, not even if I tried.

Five months after graduation, just like the doctor said, you were gone and there was nothing left for me. I went to school, came home, did my homework, ate and then when to bed. I lost a lot of friends over the next two years, but I couldn't help it. The doctors wanted to put me on anti-depressants but I didn't want those, I wanted to heal on my own no matter how many years it took.

At your funeral, the words engraved in your tombstone still are with me today: "All is lost, but none of it is forgotten." And those are the words I remember you by. I whispered to you as they buried you only four words, "I'll never leave you." And then you were gone from my life forever.

After high school I applied to UW Milwaukee so that I'd be far away from everyone that I knew, so I could start over fresh. It didn't work out as well as I wanted it to, but I'm graduating this spring with honors and job offers so I'm doing pretty good.

I feel guilty though, because in the five years I've been here, I never once went home. But I still think of you constantly and there's been no one else I've even considered. My life is not my own anymore, it's just an empty shell fighting to live, but I'm getting better now. I call people up to hang out, and I party and go to bars every now and then. I'm twenty-three and there's my whole life ahead of me, I'm not the fourteen year old girl you knew once.

It's been seven long years since I've seen you; it's been seven long years since I've felt love for any man, and it's been seven long years since I've been home. But that's about to change. I bought a ticket the other day and I'm going to come visit you. I'm visiting my family and my friends, but most importantly I'm coming back to you. I made a promise seven years ago on the day of your funeral that I'd always be by your side: now, then, forever.

Because when I hear your voice in my ears, I learn to live again…