It's 12:04 a.m. and I'm remembering how my day began, back when it was July 17th, 2017.
It has been a year since you passed and it still hurts. Not as much or as fresh as it did, but the pain and the loss and the sadness still stings and persists. But also, my memories of you - oh, there are so many of them - being with you, laughing, loving, hurting, taking to and messing around with you, linger still.
It's 12:13 a.m. and I remember your smile. When we met, you had braces, and they seemed to do nothing but widen and amplify your goofy grin. Remember kissing me, and cutting my bottom lip with them? Damn. We laughed so hard all while you apologized profusely between giggle fits and handfuls of tissues. I still carry the scar from that. You finally got them off at the beginning of junior year, and that same smile was still there. Always has been, always will be.
It's 12:24 a.m. and I'm thinking about how much you loved a good laugh. Seriously, you couldn't not make a joke. At every table you sat, laughter would float into the air, and with every hangout or conversation, there was always a chuckle or a giggle that would slip between the cracks in the dialogue. You lived for a good laugh, and understood, better than anyone, that laughter was the best medicine.
It's 12:29 a.m. and I remember your passion for being in action. Whether it was cliff jumping or body slamming the biggest kid on the ice rink, you were the man for the job. An adrenaline junkie, I called you, though you were a bad one since you were constantly getting hurt. One of the first things you told me was how your family practically had a section of the waiting room reserved especially for you, a statement that now smarts with irony. You always went one hundred percent and gave everything, big or small, relationship or friendship, anything and everything, your best shot.
It's 12:35 a.m. and I call to mind your kindness. Maybe it was the way you were raised, the Catholic boy morals or the little fairy-tale princess in me, but you were so ridiculously kind. You were a standup guy, respectful, polite and selfless as they come. You would literally give the shirt off your back if someone asked, and always offering help, just because. It was who you were.
It's 12:47 a.m. and I'm thinking of our last conversation. It was prom, and you and your girlfriend were leaving from the photo booth in the corner. You both looked so beautiful and so happy. I impulsively went over the talk to you, even when my friends tried to pull me away. I went up to you and asked how your night was. You said, "It was perfect, couldn't have asked for a better night". I plucked the photo booth pictures out of your breast pocket and you looked a little wary and puzzled. But when I laughed and complimented both of you on your funny poses, you relaxed and smiled. Really smiled. I handed the pictures back to you and said goodnight. As you turned away, holding her hand, you raised the other and waved, saying, "see you later".
Those were the last words you ever spoke to me.
It's 1 a.m. and everything flashes forward: the crash, the funeral, the looks of complete sadness and grief wracking the faces of your parents, your brother, your best friend, me. All the other images pass through my mind with mixed emotions of gut-wrenching sorrow and bittersweet happiness. Like your coffin being lowered into your grave, your grandmother handing me a flower from your funeral bouquet, the ceremony on the football field honoring you, the pink and blue balloons drifting upwards, the colored flour frozen in pink and blue bursts in the air for a split second before fading into the sunset.
My favorite image of you, one that I replay alongside my memories with you, is when I visited your grave on the anniversary of your death. I was sitting in the grass, trying not to cry and quietly thinking, when a perfectly formed blossom touched down onto the grass right in front of me. The other cherry blossoms floating down on your grave, vivid pinks bouncing of the bright green of the grass and the earthy gray of your headstone. It was an instance where, instead of being plagued by this image of you shrouded in the darkness associated in death, I saw the light you once embodied, turning a somber visit into a peaceful vigil.
It's 1:45 a.m. and I miss you something awful.
Be happy up there, Gavin. Be as joyful in the heavens as you were on the Earth below, with us. Fly high.