When you’re a 19 year old girl with a crush on a boy, you’re filled with giddiness and hope. You daydream about how your story will unfold. You wonder.
Will he ever ask me out?
What would his lips feel like brushing against mine?
How many of my friends can he possibly date in four years?
Wonderful, but I had to wait many, many years to find out.
And a LOT of them.
How I DIDN’T imagine the story ending?
Huddled in the corner of my salon, foils in my hair, fighting back tears as I shared that our favorite karaoke song was “Jackson” with a complete stranger. A reporter friend of a friend on deadline and writing a piece about Trent's death, a tragic car accident in the wee hours of Mother’s Day morning. His best friend’s birthday.
The following day, my world not yet shattered, I ritualistically scanned my Facebook feed while out running errands. On a friend’s status update, I made out three words:
I didn’t even get to the name before my heart sank.
I screamed. Aloud. In the Trader Joe’s parking lot.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Not him. Please God, please, not him.
I shook and sobbed for five solid minutes before I could bear to read further and confirm what I already knew.
Where to even begin?
We were born two days apart, him being two days younger, but always wiser--as in worldly, extremely intelligent, and a total smart ass.
We met our freshman year of college through Furman Singers. We were thrown together in the same audition group for our touring choir, and then found ourselves staying in the same house one night on that tour trip. We were somewhere in Florida. The exact city, I don’t remember. I was immediately smitten by his humor, his voice, and his crystal blue eyes. I snapped a picture that night, one I would show him years later after an hour-long text argument about whether or not he had a busted up left knee in the picture (he did). He was indifferent to me, at least as far as romance went. He always had a girlfriend, pretty much all of them in my circle of friends. But we hung out often. Drinking coffee (which I didn’t like at the time). Watching Kevin Smith movies (which I also didn’t like). Listening to music (mostly things we both liked). At parties, we were the ones in the corner, observing and chatting about how other’s evenings might turn out, content to watch the action from afar.
We argued often and loudly. Mostly over politics. We were both political science majors. Stubborn. Easily excitable. Dramatic. Him the jaded beyond his years conservative. Me the naive, idealistic liberal.
He was the first person to give me a gin and tonic. I told him it tasted like grass. (I now love them).
He let me and my best friend crash at his apartment with zero notice the night one of my roommates threw her 21st birthday party at our place and left the place trashed and uninhabitable.
He would dance with me if we were out and no one else offered.
His presence and friendship were constant.
As was often the case back before texting and social media, we lost touch after graduation. I would hear about him through mutual friends, but we went more than ten years without speaking.
Then he resurfaced on Facebook.
I remember reading the top post on his feed, something about Prairie Home Companion, then read through his profile. My first comment on his wall was “WHAT? You grew up to be liberal, Episcopalian, and listen to Garrison Keillor? Basically, you’ve turned into me.”
It was as if no time had passed.
We talked often, especially as he was going through his divorce, something I was all too familiar with.
A few months after we reconnected, we met in Greenville on my way home from a Pilates teacher training session in Asheville. We met at the Furman campus, strolled arm in arm, and chatted about old times. We went to dinner. Then drinks. Then we stayed up with friends until 4 a.m., drinking cheap whiskey and singing karaoke in a dive bar.
More regular visits followed. Sometimes in Greenville, often in Atlanta. Always a great meal, always music, always heartfelt conversation, always friendly bickering.
I can’t believe you’re one of THOSE people with a 26.2 sticker on your car.
You’re ordering WINE at a pub? You’re such a snob.
You call THAT spicy food? I was so not impressed.
You’re back to smoking AGAIN? That is so disgusting.
Do you always have to wear a damn polo shirt?
Take off your hat indoors. It’s polite.
Why do you not wear your seatbelt? Damn it, Trent, seriously. Please wear your seatbelt.
That one will haunt me. Forever.
We talked once about why we never got together, in spite of years of friendship, misfires, mutual attraction, and love.
The timing was never right.
Well, this timing isn’t right, either.
It’s never right. It’s never expected, even when it is.
It never, ever gets easier to lose someone you love.
I miss him. I will always miss him.