The echoes of my youth sound in my head like screams that don’t calm as distance encroaches, but rather reverberates getting louder as it becomes fainter. I can hear everything all at once, and then nothing at all, and then suddenly I understand, and then as suddenly as the logic presents itself it vanishes. I have been having the same dream night after night, and my peers say it’s normal; that I’m experiencing the aftermath of a tragic situation that only will give me strength in the years to come, but when Josh is sitting there in his alien shirt, sleeves cut off, with his hair over grown, although still clean shaven, telling me not to worry about him, I don’t get all warm inside. I don’t count my blessings, and I don’t feel like I have been given some kind of gift. I feel like I missed an opportunity to prevent a gun from going off, and I could see him so vividly, like he’s alive, and I can call him up and listen to his incisive yet excessive babble, and I will tell him that no matter what, problems present themselves with solutions when we least expect them. I will tell him that life is about cycles and that we must experience the downs in order to appreciate the ups. I will tell him that I’m his friend for reasons that I can articulate, and not some vague ramblings of someone who can only really use proximity or common acquaintances as grounds for their relationship. I would tell him that I would always miss his smile, and his grins, or his laugh … knowing that laugh – that carefully considered the joke before committing to the result. I would tell him I would miss the man he would have grown into, because you don’t often find strength of character in deceptive packages.

And then I realize that the opportunity was mine to miss; that as I go through life I’m nothing more than a handshake, or an ineffective hug. I am a warm bowl of ice cream; all the flavor and depth without the texture. I’m nothing more than a string of conversations that hardly mean anything because they don’t involve really involving myself, and I realize that I will never be close to someone in a way that can help them because I have hardwired myself to be apart. Someone told me after Josh shot himself that I was the best person I could be, and I shouldn’t blame myself for anything. I thought about that for a very long time, and the truth that it entailed, but at one point I have to move forward. I have to move past the pain of my youth, and the sting that being different and cast out time after time has caused me. I have to involve myself in my life and the lives of the people who I care about. I have to feel something other than pity of self, and I have to find virtue in breaking down from time to time in front of something other than this fucking computer, and this damn blog. That day, however, is not today, and I shall remain apart, because for the first time in my life I understand the pain of loss, and perhaps I’m apart for a reason.

So my youth echoes in my head, and I hear it everyday. I hear everything everyday … I can see Josh just like he’s still here. I can hear my sister’s voice, and I can see her face. People don’t die in my mind; they live. Some say I’m healthy, I say I need to say hello before I can say good-bye. I’m not the little gay boy anymore who no one likes. I’m not the guy who people are waiting around corners for to punch and remind him that he doesn’t belong. I’m not the guy who has to lie to people anymore to be able to exist on the outside of their lives. I’m not any of those things, but Josh reminded me of something, I still act as if I am. I still act as if I’m not good enough for people to love me, or for people to care about me. I cast away people if they get too close, and I make fun of people for wanting to be around me. The problem is it’s laced into my personality. The actions that allowed my survival from the very thing that took Josh’s life, sadness, are the very things that set me on this road. They are the very thing I hold on to because I know if I let go there is no telling how long the fall will be, and how much pain it will cause when I finally hit the ground.

And so I’m angry that my friendship wasn’t enough to save someone. I’m angry that I don’t have enough to give so that it would buy someone that brief second in time while they’re standing in front of their mirror with a gun pointed at their head to pause and think of calling me. I’m angry at all the people who stalled my growth, and made me believe that I had nothing to give, and nothing to gain by being their friend. I’m angry at people who made fun my humor because they were jealous, and I’m angry at people who teased my creativity because they said it made me gay (something that scares me to this day … what came first), and I’m angry at those people kicked me when I was down, and all those people who never gave me the chance to burden them with problems that they may have been able to solve, and left me feeling and being alone. They created me, the people who cared the least about me, created me as sure as I’m sitting here. As sure as I know that the only thing that will listen to me is this computer, I know that I’m not enough for anyone. And the thing that kills me is that I could have been enough. I have everything. I do care, and I do feel, and I do understand, and I can be there, and I can do all the things I’m afraid of … and I could have saved Josh. I know it’s not popular to say, and it kills all of everyone’s thoughts of my being healthy in the face of my own mortality … but I’m saying it out loud … I could have saved him. I could have told him he wasn’t alone, and that things will get better, if my friendship would have actually meant something to him.

But how do you paint over the red? How do you unbend the chain, or un-bake the bread? Is Silvia’s death enough? Does my inability to step that once step closer into someone’s life end when my sister died? Will Josh’s death be enough? I guess these are all open ended questions I shall answer … and write about no doubt.

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