Dear Christoph,

They've asked me to write your eulogy, and for the first time in my life, I find I don't know what to say. There have been times I haven't had anything to say, and times when I've had something to say, but refrained from saying it. Never this predicament, though. I've always considered myself a fairly competent communicator and well spoken person, but what does one say about the person they love most in the world? You are, you know.

I keep thinking and thinking, and all that comes to my mind is a memory I have, locked up tight – I don't want to lose it, there aren't going to be any more to replace it.

It was in December of that semester I spent there, right before Christmas. It was after midnight, and we were in your room; you were on the bed, watching me, and I was at your mahogany desk studying German. I think I was probably the only person to ever use that piece of furniture – God knows you never did – but despite it's aesthetic beauty, it wasn't much inspiration. I was having so much trouble with that language, and you just sat there on your bed, reading Camus and smiling that stupid smug smile that was so irritating. I finally threw down the textbook with frustration and anger, and you chuckled to yourself. Chuckled. I was feeling like an idiot, and you thought it was funny. Or so it seemed when I turned to snap at you. I was so mad, but you simply got up, walked over, and kissed me firmly on the mouth to shut up my tirade.

"Let's bury it," you said, as if you made complete sense.

I had no idea what you intended, but I let you lead my by the hand anyway, all the way across town to the school, with only the moon to see by. We went over to the wall that stretched up to our classroom, and there beneath the window I sat next to every day, you started digging.

It was December, and northern Germany in the winter is an unforgiving mistress. The only thing more frozen than the air was the ground. Nevertheless, you toiled for the better part of an hour; the shovel's head bit and tore at the earth, and you were sweating so profusely I was legitimately worried you were going to get sick. You said nothing of it, though, and didn't let me. You simply took the German textbook out of my frozen fingers and laid it in the hole. Without any more ceremony, you swept the soil you'd just worked so hard to dislodge back into the hole, and proceeded to give a very brief, very ridiculous (but nonetheless funny) funeral sermon.

And I will never forget the look in your eyes when you turned to me then and asked, suddenly serious, "There now, is that better?"

You planted irises over that spot when spring came. You never actually told me that part of the story, but Nane told me. Told me you'd spent whole afternoons cultivating those flowers.

I've never written a eulogy before, and I've only heard a few before in my life. I don't remember them well, but I do remember that they were spoken in third person, describing a person. But I've tried, and I can't talk about you in third person; it seems unnatural. My powers of description, usually strong, have always failed where you're concerned. How do you describe someone like you? A candle in a human's body. I can only talk to you and hope that everyone understands it's alright, for once, to eavesdrop. I can't talk about you, because that seems like something you do about a person who's not there, and I still can't comprehend that terrible truth. Even though we were apart for most of the two years we knew each other, you never seemed completely gone.

How do I accept this? When Tad killed himself four years ago, I could at least be mad at him for being so dumb. But there's no place to put my anger this time, and I know you hate it when I don't know what I'm angry at. A waste of energy, you say. So what do I do?

I suppose I could start with what I should have always started with: the fact that I love you. I was never honest with you because I was afraid. It's true though, just as it always was and probably always will be. And that fear I had? Now I'm afraid of something else: the future. I always pushed you away, but took your presence in my life for granted. I just sort of figured you'd always be there in the future. I didn't examine it too closely, because if I thought about it too much I'd freak out about the commitment I was considering, and you know I've never been good with commitment. I thought, though, that I'd spend my life with you, in some way or another, and we'd grow old together, and I'd watch your beautiful face lose it's youthfulness and grace gradually. I won't get to do that anymore, and for the first time since I met you, I'm afraid of the future because of the emptiness it holds now.

I spent a year and a half pushing you away over and over again because I was scared about how much loving you hurt. I never, ever imagined finding someone like you, or loving someone this much, or least of all, even when we were happy, how much pain there was in just caring for you. When I looked at you, I wanted to die. But now it's worse. Now I can't even look at you, and it's killing me. If I was scared before, I'm terrified now.

But still, I was better off than you, wasn't I? I can't count the times you told me you loved me. I always had that to fall back on, that luxury of knowing. But if you knew what I felt for you, it was only through intuition. I always held back, pushed away, and as a result you didn't get to hear the one thing you needed: that I love you just as much as you loved me, if not more. You offered me your heart more times than I can remember, and I always threw it back in your face. And now, it's stopped it's lively beating and I'm out of chances. Believe me when I say I have no bigger regrets.

So, I'm telling you now, late though it is. I love you. I always did, and I can't tell the future, but I don't feel like stopping any time soon. I loved those seven freckles that stretched across your nose, even though you always denied their existence. I loved the way you hero-worshiped your seven-year-old brother, just like he always hero-worshiped you. I loved the soft expression you'd get in your eyes when your sweet-tempered dog sought your attention. I loved your handwriting, and the passion you put into everything – even appearing dispassionate. I loved watching you speak French and Italian and Romanian, and I know I pretended to be mad, but I loved when you got drunk enough to stand up on that bar in Kleve and dedicate your off-version of that John Denver song to me, even though I hate John Denver. I loved watching you dig at the frozen ground for an hour. I loved the way your hair looked messy after you showered, and I loved the fact that you never wore cologne and I could always smell your soap. I loved watching you shave, and the expressions on your face as you read. I loved the way you defended your autistic older brother, no matter what. I loved the way you made off-color jokes about my host-brother's affection for his pet ferret, and the way you always complained about my music, even though you listened to garbage. I even loved the way you flew 5,000 miles to surprise me, not once, but twice. I loved all of that, and more, and I still do. The only thing I hate is that I'm finally saying all of these things and you're not even here to hear it.

These people here, eavesdropping on our conversation, came because you somehow touched or marked their lives. They knew you, possibly even loved you, and despite your occasional arrogance and stubbornness and rearing pride, you were never anyone they wanted to see go so soon. I can't describe to them in third person what you were like, but I think in the end, they can and will remember you the way you were and know what really matters: that you loved fiercely, and were loved in kind. I will always love you, Christoph, and I'm so sorry I never said it before.

Very sincerely, always yours,