A year ago today, I was sitting in Spanish class, slacking off on my phone like I normally do, when the principal comes over the loud speaker and announces the death of one of our 2015 seniors in an accident early that morning. I was shocked, we’d already lost two of our seniors from shootings in year before that. They didn’t say who it was yet, but the rumors started immediately behind me, and I got a chill up my spine. “No…” I thought. “It isn’t true, she’s just coincidentally not here.”
I texted my mother at work, who checked up on it for me. While I waited and prayed that she denied it to be true, a sudden wave of guilt overtook me.
I met her in elementary school, like most of my friends in the area. We were in the same classes until we hit highschool. We got along well, played together, and talked to each other all the time. But as we got older, we grew apart. There was no real reason, just not being around in the same classes, I guess, but I started to feel guilty about never speaking to her in recent years. And something kept nagging at me. Didn’t I just see her yesterday?Yes, I saw her the day before, at the grocery. We were going into the store, routine milk and bread kind of trip. We saw her and had a brief conversation before leaving the store.
My mother texted back. “I’m sorry sweetie, but it’s true. Tristan is gone.”
My heart dropped.
When you share a moment with someone, however small, as a child, you expect them to grow up to be as old as you are, to live to have the same opportunities. You don’t expect to attend their funeral until you are looking at retirement home brochures, no matter how unreasonable an expectation that is, no matter how uncertain the future is, no matter how good of a grasp you have on reality and the possibility that some of those kids will not make it to graduation.
I knew it could happen, but it still broke something inside of me.
And in this moment I knew far more grief than anyone would think appropriate for just an aquaintance.
I had heard some pretty nasty rumors of Tristan sleeping around, getting drunk all the time, failing her classes. Some or all of those rumors could and probably were true, but it really didn’t matter to me. Yet, it seemed to matter to a lot of the students. They justified their lack of grief by saying that she deserved to die. I don’t care if she stole your boyfriend, or called you fat or something equally stupid. She didn’t deserve to die. You know why? It’s just something kids do, ridicule each other. That’s all. She didn’s deserve to die.
And it broke my heart that they would not only say that, but say that to Tristan’s grieving mother. What kind of monsters…
Well, I happen to know that she had a kind heart, and an amazing smile. She was known for her clumsiness and her derpy sense of humor that made her likeable to most people. Even though she could be mean and incredibly loud, I also happen to know that if any of THEM died, she would not have said that they deserved it.
And you know what? I’m not super religious, but I know that there is something out there for lost souls like hers. She’s in heaven, or equivilant, I think. And if she isn’t, that’s because there isn’t one, not because she drank and called you fat when she was fifteen.
I just wanted you guys to know this, and I wanted Tristan to know that I’m still thinking of her. That’s all for now.